Starring: Robert Pattinson, Dane DeHaan, Ben Kingsley, Joel Edgerton Canada, USA. 2016. 1h 51m
I can honestly say that this film wasn’t ever going to be a winner with me, but I’m opening minded and I’m more than happy to let a good film change my opinion, but there was something worrying and lifeless about this new film from Anton Corbijn.
Meandering along at a cool jazz tempo throughout this piece of American icon worship featuring an underpowered performance from Dane DeHaan impersonating James Dean, which just comes across as drowsy more than introverted, misses out all of the gritty details about sexuality.Ultimately Life has quite simple in it’s plot Dennis Stock, who was currently working for Magnum Photos, has an assignment to photograph an upcoming actor, James Dean, just before the release of East of Eden. A friendship develops between the pair as they travel from LA, to New York to Indiana to visit Dean’s family.
Corbijn who himself is a photographer turned director and who does have a superb visual sense, created some demanding and exciting movies such as Control (2007) about the life of Ian Curtis and A Most Wanted Man (2014) which is a movie about photography so really he’s the man who will understand both mediums more than any, but this film just lags.. continually.
The freezing and immortal Times Square photograph, which the film surround takes up a fraction of a scene, the film is the bond between Dean and Dennis (Robert Pattinson) who seems to still be shrugging of the damage done by Twilight persona which is strange as he did such a good job in Rover (2014) and tries to spur this sleepwalking pace up a little with his personal hang ups and faults, although his efforts and style are often suppressed by DeHaan’s zombie motions. I often felt that Pattinson could have played the dean character to a much more entertaining level.
Cool and cold, the movie has some moments of incredible drama, but so few and far inbetween the blankness that dominates the screen. Fans will be expecting more from the Dean character and newbies like me would be expecting more from the narrative. Even with the odd sprightly cameo’s from Ben Kingsley as Jack L Warner and Joel Edgerton as John G Morris, the film’s only highlight for me was when Patterson vomits on his son after a night of drugs and cavorting. If you’re looking for a road movie/drama then I would recommend This must be the place (2011).
R – Control (2007), A Most Wanted Man (2014),This must be the place (2011)
L – Photographers on film,
A – Doppleganger, does it matter if stars don’t look like the person they are impersonating?
5S – Robert Pattinson, Dane DeHaan, Ben Kingsley, Joel Edgerton