Patterson is doing well shedding the predicessory cash cow skin a la’ some vampiric tripe I’d rather not mention. Bettering his form with each role he takes (See: Remember Me or Map to the Stars) he now portrays Dennis Stock, the photographer for Life Magazine that shot pictures of James Dean (Dane DeHaan) before starring in, arguably his most iconic role “Rebel without a Cause.”
What we have here is a chronicling of Dean’s rise to stardom, a stardom that never peaked, which is a tragedy in itself. One of which, the story doesn’t capitalise on this, instead of sorrowfully weeping at a true talent lost before it’s time – when the credits roll you dryly think “Yup, that’s what happened to the guy…”
We see glimmers of a troubled young actor, but the glimmers aren’t enough for the drama to ignite, you want, neigh, yearn to be pulled into his world. Instead you’re gifted with exceptionally recreated photographic stills from Dean’s life. The direction is consistent, nothing ever appears out of place or stagnates, but if you’re going to create a biopic potentially about one of America’s most iconic actors (of his time,) then consistent simply doesn’t cut it. Average doesn’t cut it. The acting is adequate, in some moments, it even excels, but that glimmer is brief none the less and the outcome suffers for it. You can’t help but imagine what could have been with this film if things were done differently.
You can understand the casting choice for James Dean, Dane DeHaan is an untapped resource, yet his career is still blooming. His naturally ambiguous style fits well but you can stop the comparisons at that. Life doesn’t detract from his ability yet it doesn’t advance it either. I’m excited to see what he’s capable of because it could be so much more than this.
So there you have it, an average review for an average film. Maybe they’ll get it right next time and by all means, mark my words, there will be a next time…
2.5 / 5
Dir: Anton Corbijn
Scr: Luke Davies
Cast: Robert Pattinson, Dane DeHaan, Joel Edgerton, Ben Kingsley
Prd: Iain Canning, Benito Mueller, Wolfgang Muller, Christina Piovesan, Emile Sherman
DOP: Charlotte Bruus Christensen
Music: Owen Pallet
Run time: 111 mins
Life is available on Blu-Ray, DVD and On-Demand now.