The late 90's rock singer Jeff Buckley is immortalized on the silver screen in the new biopic "Greetings from Tim Buckley" starring Penn Badgley. Entertainment Weekly's Owen Gleiberman filed the following movie review for NY1.
Jeff Buckley was the quietest of rock idols. He sang in a high soft tremor and released his one and only album, Grace, in 1994, and three years later he drowned in the Wolf River in Memphis. He was only 31, and his death was an accident. But did he die, on some level, due to karmic demons? Jeff was the son of the ‘60s/’70s folk-rock cult star Tim Buckley, who abandoned him at birth, and Tim, too, had died young -- of a drug overdose. There’s enough hidden family craziness, and enough 2 a.m. East Village cool, in Jeff Buckley’s story to make it obvious why a great many young actors have wanted to play him. Now one of them has -- quite remarkably.
In the new movie Greetings from Tim Buckley, which is premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival and is currently available on Video on Demand, Penn Badgley, from "Gossip Girl", wears his hair in a ’50s-on-acid pompador, and he carries himself with a spooky self-possession. Badgley is a great camera subject, and a great singer, too -- he does an eerily dead-on impersonation of Buckley's jazzy wail.
The entire film takes place over the three or four days leading up to the tribute concert for Tim Buckley that was held, in 1991, at St. Ann and the Holy Trinity Church in Brooklyn Heights. Jeff has agreed to perform at the concert, but it’s clear he’s still silently raging against his father. He meets a girl, played by Imogen Poots, and they have a hipster courtship -- which is to say, they’re too cool to do anything like go on a date or reveal themselves in conversation. They just hang out.
The film cuts back and forth between Jeff and Tim Buckley, played with rakish appeal by Ben Rosenfield, all to create the sense that this father and son are communing across the decades. The filmmakers didn't get the legal rights to use Jeff Buckley’s music, but Tim’s songs flood the soundtrack, and they are beautiful. Jeff, if he chooses, can keep on rejecting his father, but if he does so, he’ll also be rejecting a part of his own soul.
"Greetings From Tim Buckley" is a melancholy wisp of a movie, almost an anecdote, really. Yet it lingers in the heart.