Life (2014)

Anton Corbijn directs Robert Pattinson, Dane DeHaan and Joel Edgerton in this true story drama where a struggling photo journalist strikes up an opportunistic friendship with James Dean who is on the cusp of fame.

Inessential but solid. Corbijn uses the film as a delivery system for some lovely period imagery – every selected skinny tie and faked cityscape evokes beauty. I’m not sure there’s a feature films worth of narrative in this extended historical anecdote but even the filler scenes have a visual lyricism. The acting is a positive with both leads given quite rich, complex roles. DeHaan’s Dean is seductive, obtuse but scared of attention, passively hostile to sacrificing control. Pattinson’s photographer is a darker character and it say something about the reluctant star that you never quite get a fix on him. There’s something worthwhile in Pattinson’s deep water, buried treasure acting style. Maybe it covers up his limitations and pretty boy sins but I find it very magnetic. He’s better in Good Time and The Rover but this contains that same smooth puzzle.


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