‘Life’: Robert Pattinson wisely rides shotgun in James Dean drama

SHARE ‘Life’: Robert Pattinson wisely rides shotgun in James Dean drama

In the blink of an eye after Robert Pattinson was the lead heartthrob in the “Twilight” movies and was THE worldwide leader in shopping mall frenzies, he’s playing the relatively bland supporting character in a film about a legendary leading actor of the 1950s.

Smart move by Pattinson. It’s further evidence he’s a legitimate actor with a bright future, and the willingness to sublimate ego in favor of craft.

Thematically similar to “My Week With Marilyn,” the fictionalized adaptation of two books about the making of a Marilyn Monroe film, “Life” is loosely based on the events of a few weeks in 1955, when aspiring magazine photographer Dennis Stock (Pattinson) shadowed rising star James Dean (Dane DeHaan), befriended Dean and made serious personal sacrifices in the name of career advancement.

Dane De Haan’s borderline-irritating portrayal of James Dean, with all the self-conscious cadences and high-pitched deliveries, almost dares you to reject the work — until you realize he’s encapsulating Dean’s charisma AND his selfishness as an actor.

Pattinson’s Dennis Stock is mesmerized by Dean and is convinced he’s hitched to a rising star, regardless of the consequences to his personal life.

I loved Ben Kingsley’s over-the-top work as studio head Jack Warner, who in one scene explains the lay of the land to Mr. Dean in a manner that would inspire envy from Don Corleone. This guy isn’t messing around.

[s3r star=3/4]

Cinedigmpresents a film directed by Anton Corbijn and written by Luke Davies. Running time: 111minutes. Rated R (for some sexuality/nudity and language). Opens Friday on demand and at AMC South Barrington 30.

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