Penn Badgley's performance here as the late, lamented singer-songwriter Jeff Buckley (1966-1997) is so strong and involving that if he wasn't already a star courtesy his gig on TV's Gossip Girl you'd be tempted to go Garland and break out the "a-star-is-born" huzzah. Let's just say then that "a screen star is born" in Dan Algrant's smart, nuanced and sensitive biopic -- actually biopics as the film also devotes considerable time to Tim Buckley, the father Jeff never really knew (he died at 28 of a heroin overdose in 1975) yet whose posthumous musical legacy was at once burden, obstacle and prod to his talented, conflicted son. Film, framed by Buckley Jr.'s now-famous appearance at a tribute concert to his dad in New York's St. Ann's Church, expertly weaves its contrapuntal narrative between the late '60s and early '90s, celebrating both the music and the process by which great music is made. There's real chemistry among the entire cast but especially between Badgley and his romantic interest, Britain's superb Imogen Poots. A fest must-see.
Sept. 11, 12 noon, Bloor; Sept. 14, 9 p.m., Yonge & Dundas