The love between a father and son is a sacred thing. But what about when a son doesn’t know his father? And what about when that father casts such a shadow that the son he ever really knew is forced to live in it? This is the complicated and uncommon relationship that’s explored from beyond the grave in Greetings from Tim Buckley.
A post-Gossip Girl Penn Badgley portrays a pre-Grace Jeff Buckley as he prepares to perform at an early ‘9Os tribute concert to his late father, Tim. The film explores via two storylines, both the past and the present, the complicated and practically non-existent relationship between the ‘6Os folk musician and the son he left behind and didn’t know.
Badgley tries hard as Jeff and it shows. His goofiness and dedication shine in the scene in the record shop as he does impressions of top musicians. He commits to the role and that includes doing his own singing, but he never quite disappears into Jeff. Part of the problem is that he isn’t given much to work with and spends the film portraying a young man who is lost and angry with no direction. While that may be an accurate reflection of the character, it makes for a film that is less than confident. Similarly, the parallel storyline of Tim, bouncing between women and trying to pursue his music, doesn’t reveal anything particularly deep or meaningful about the father’s feelings for the son he abandoned. A moment of affection doesn’t prove anything.
With a beautiful and fluid soundtrack, the film has some redeeming moments. Greetings from Tim Buckley hints at the greatness that awaits Jeff but does little to illuminate the troubled relationship with Tim. Instead, the film speculates too much and explains little.