As Tim Buckley’s son Jeff (Penn Badgely, Margin Call), a few years before he made his acclaimed ‘95 debut album Grace, prepares to participate in a tribute concert to his late father, we get glimpses into the 70s of Tim's (Ben Rosenfield) short career in this dual rock biopic from director Daniel Algrant.
Algrant’s decision to insert the audience into this specific period of Jeff’s life, the first time his own intimately collided with his father’s, is a good decision. The soundtrack is suitably made up of Tim’s music, and his legacy is clearly admired and respected. Jeff, who never knew his father, save for a few brief meetings when he was very young, is more indifferent. He is struggling to escape the expectations placed on him, while trying to understand the extent of his own musical talents. It is courtesy of his friendship with Allie (Imogen Poots, 28 Days Later), one of the production assistants, and his involvement in the tribute concert that he is then able to go on to capture the heart of his own generation.
The whole film needed as much passion as the final concert performances, which are brilliant. There are not enough significant events in Tim’s story to get a sense of who he was and Jeff’s meanders, comprised prominently of a lengthy outing with Allie. The strongest scenes involve Jeff’s spontaneous bursts of talent – a rendition in a record store and an impromptu rock out with another tribute artist.
What is chilling about this particular father and son, in addition to both being gifted singer-songwriters and musicians, is the fact that they both passed away in their 20s – Tim to a drug overdose, Jeff to drowning. Jeff is perhaps walking his father’s footsteps as his ghost. Though Tim had already made six albums by the time he was Jeff’s age, many believed Jeff would find his potential and go on to have the career tragically cut short for his father.
The portrayals of both men aren't exactly flattering, with Jeff coming across as arrogant, bitter and ungrateful. His talents explode off the screen when he brings it, and Badgely’s performance is good. We don’t learn much about Poots’ character in the end, but she is sweet as the object of his fascination, and there are some nice supports, including a surprising appearance from William Sadler.
Greetings From Tim Buckley is rarely gripping. It is not particularly insightful about either musician either and fans will be disappointed.
Andrew Buckle - follow Andy on Twitter here: @buckle22