Movie review: Father, son and wholly ghostly story in “Greetings from Tim Buckley”

By Columbus Alive
From the May 16, 2013 edition

Two generations of talent and sadness are depicted in “Greetings from Tim Buckley,” a fictionalized depiction of late singer Jeff Buckley and his non-existent relationship with his father, late singer Tim Buckley.

Whereas many biopics fall into the trap of trying to encompass a whole life in two hours, “Greetings” focus is almost too narrow. The plot is a phantom, as the elder Buckley was in the life of the younger.

In 1991, a young Jeff Buckley (Penn Badgely of TV’s “Gossip Girl”) is in New York City rehearsing for a musical tribute to his late father (Ben Rosenfield). Jeff is reluctant to bear his dad’s legacy, but his uncanny talent is beginning to bloom.

Director Daniel Algrant has a gentle touch with the tale, interweaving the lives and loves of Jeff and his father at similar times in their lives, a connection that continued in their early deaths.

The resulting imagination of this tale feels a bit like when Gus Van Sant had that “sort of mostly based on real life” phase with the Kurt Cobain-inspired “Last Days” and the Columbine shooting-inspired “Elephant.”

More tone piece than narrative, “Greetings” is a worthwhile watch, particularly for Buckley fans. Badgely’s performance — especially a scene of spontaneous singing in a record store — should please most fans, even if the overall experience is a bit muddy.

“Greetings from Tim Buckley”

Opens Friday at the Gateway

2 1/2 stars out of 4