After making the rounds at film festivals in 2012, "Greetings from Tim Buckley" comes out in a limited theatrical release on Friday.
While the film itself is mostly getting panned (director Daniel Algrant did not even get the rights to Buckley's music!) by critics, Penn Badgley's performance as Tim's son, the ultimately more famous Jeff Buckley, has received praise.
The "Gossip Girl" actor took on a challenging role that included quite a bit of live singing — and mimicking a voice like Jeff Buckley's is a tall order for any actor.
David Fear, film critic at TimeOut New York, did not have much praise for any aspect of "Greetings." Fear did point out one bright spot, which will become a recurring theme in this critical round-up: "Other than an impromptu spectacle in a downtown record store, little of the chops and charisma Buckley had in spades is channeled; this is still the usual Let Us Now Praise Famous Men karaoke session, wrapped up in some extra-discordantly warbled notes."
That record store scene is the breakthrough shot in the film. Bloomberg News agreed that Badgley "nails it," and the character of Jeff Buckley is "superbly played."
Jim Farber of the New York Daily News credits Badgley for making the most of what he had to work with, saying, "There’s little in the way of a script, leaving star Badgley with nothing to do but stare off or brood. The actor has Jeff’s fine-boned androgyny as well as a flicker of his wild falsetto. He makes florid use of it in a scene where he serenades a lover with snatches of Led Zeppelin and T. Rex hits. For all the star’s efforts, the movie itself ends up little more than an exploitation item, a sad place-holder until the real thing comes along."
That "real thing" Farber is referring to is titled "Mystery White Boy," which if ever made would include Buckley's music. The project has been rumored for years and has had a number of leading men attached to the role of Jeff Buckley. Currently James Franco is considered amont the frontrunners.
But back to its ugly stepbrother. AV Club's Noel Murray is complimentary of the current leading man in "Greetings from Tim Buckley," saying "Badgley is terrific, and even if he doesn’t quite succeed in making Jeff Buckley likeable, he does make the singer’s standoffish attitude understandable."
Reel Film Reviews said, "It's ultimately clear that 'Greetings from Tim Buckley' benefits substantially — and this is a tremendous understatement — from Badgley's immersive and consistently electrifying turn as the late Buckley, and there's little doubt that the actor, who does much of his own singing in the film, becomes Buckley to a degree that's often nothing short of astonishing."
Kevin Jagernauth of Indiewire, "Penn Badgley's performance in 'Greetings From Tim Buckley' does justice to the late Jeff Buckley, while also revealing that the 'Gossip Girl' star has quite a few more talents than he's thus far been given credit for."