Despite what its title suggests, Daniel Algrant’s new drama, Greetings From Tim Buckley, concerns itself less with salutations than with pointed valedictions, the iconic singer-songwriter not so much present as distantly looming, an absent father canonized in death by fans but resented for life by his only son. The lonely boy in question is a vernal Jeff Buckley (Penn Badgley), seen here still budding at the tender age of 24, three years out from recording his first and only album, Grace. Living alone in Los Angeles, ever under the shadow of his father’s legacy, the junior Buckley is invited to New York to participate in a tribute concert celebrating a man he never knew but whose presence he can’t escape. He agrees on what seems like a whim—or perhaps because he has something to prove. Algrant regards this event—which did happen, at St. Ann’s Cathedral in the spring of 1991—as a venue for romanticized cross-generational reflection, not only the music world’s introduction to Tim Buckley’s heir apparent but, more significantly, a kind of spiritual reconciliation between a late estranged father and his deeply wounded child. The film articulates this dimension of the story, regrettably, in little more than biopic platitudes and daddy-issue clichés. But Badgley delivers a performance of such nuance and ferocity that he singlehandedly makes a conventional film seem loose and improvisatory. With his lackadaisical gait, a shock of unkempt hair and his Method naturalism, Badgley triumphs over a seemingly impossible challenge: embodying such a beloved and important musician, not only acting as him but singing in his trademark tenor.
Dan AlgrantImogen Poots, Penn Badgley, William Sadler, Ben Rosenfield, Norbert Leo Butz, Frank Wood, Ilana Levine, Jessica Stone, Alex Ziwak, Isabelle McNallyEmma Sheanshang, Dan Algrant, David BrendelJohn N. Hart Jr., Patrick Milling Smith, Amy Nauiokas, Fred Zollo