As you know if you are a Jeff Buckley fan, we are the lip of the long threatened, finally imminent Great Deluge Of Jeff Buckley Biopics. And we’ve been casting the role nearly as long as Jeff’s mom Mary Guibert has: in 2006, your consensus choice was James Franco; more recently, there was no consensus, though Andrew Garfield and Reeve Carney were mentioned more than most. Hollywood’s obliged by casting many young actors in the role. Your boy Reeve won the part in the “officially sanctioned” work, the one with the rights to Jeff’s songs and the apparent casting directive to get the guy who looks most eerily like Jeff reincarnate.
But then there’s the other film, the one based on the Jeff & Tim Buckley biography you’ve probably read if you’ve read one Jeff & Tim biography, Dream Brother. And that one isn’t starring an actor that thoroughly resembles Jeff, unless you count the general “photogenic bone structure” descriptor, but maybe more importantly (and unexpectedly), features someone who’s got Buckley’s inimitably fluttering castrato falsetto vocal style down cold. It’s your other boy Penn Badgley, best known as Williamsburg-lifer Dan Humphrey on your favorite show Gossip Girl. (Here is real-life Penn in real-life Williamsburg singing a Jeff Buckley song at Cameo Gallery, demonstrating his chops on “Lilac Wine.”) In Greetings From Tim Buckley, Badlgey plays the younger Buckley that existed before his official move from LA to NYC: the Jeff that was coming to terms with (ironically, given the casting) looking so much like his father but never knowing him, the one who was running from that resemblance his whole life until making the counterintuitive but totally fateful decision to sing at a tribute concert to Tim at St. Mark’s church in the East Village, setting him on the path to a cult hero status, an unprecedented record deal, and not as much commercial success as he should have had before losing himself to a watery grave at age 30.
Greetings reportedly ends with that tribute concert, which is an ingenious way to make a compelling movie about Jeff Buckley while working around not having rights to any of his monumental music (since at that point, he hadn’t really written any of it). On the flip side, if that is true, this trailer is basically the whole movie in three minutes, which I guess is to say it is a movie trailer in 2012.
I can’t find a release date for the film, but according to its Wiki page, Greetings screened to generally positive reviews at this year’s Toronto Film Festival, and for that added dose of authenticity, had guitarist Gary Lucas (co-writer of “Grace” and “Mojo Pin” amongst many other personal career accolades) serve as a consultant to Badgley during shooting. All of which is to say, I will watch this movie.