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LIFE (review)


Written by Luke Davies / Directed by Anton Corbin / Starring Robert Pattinson and Dane DeHann

To call Anton Corbijn’s new film LIFE a biopic just would not seem right. While James Dean (Dane DeHann) is the protagonist, the film is not trying to map the life of the ill-fated actor, nor does it function as a character study. Instead, the film charts the short but important relationship between two men, Dean and photographer Dennis Stock (Robert Pattinson).

Pattinson stars as the LIFE magazine photographer who convinced his editor to let him follow up-and-coming actor James Dean around before the release of his first film, EAST OF EDEN. At first, Dean makes himself completely inaccessible, avoiding Stock, even though he agreed to do the series. Eventually the two begin to form a relationship, and Stock’s photos become increasingly more impressive. Meanwhile, Stock begins to understand the man who would soon come to be one of the biggest stars on the planet.

The relationship between the two men is interesting, but with the main focus on Stock, viewers are not given the insight into James Dean that they may have hoped for. DeHann’s Dean is an interesting one; I find myself slightly perplexed by the performance, as it is difficult to tell if DeHann’s Dean is really great or simply a poor impersonation. He gets the voice and the hair right, but his embodiment of Dean is somewhat puzzling. It is Pattinson who does the heavy lifting here, once again showing audiences that he is not the talentless actor we assumed him to be after the release of TWILIGHT.

Corbijn once again assumes an interesting directorial style, focusing more on nuance and emotions than action. Like his THE AMERICAN and A MOST WANTED MAN, Corbijn directs with a slow, melodic pace. This time around though, it does the film a disservice though as it can be rather difficult to connect with. Ultimately, LIFE is a decent film that suffers because it doesn’t really know what it wants to be. Viewers will want a biopic, and won’t get it, and are distant conversations between two quiet men enough to evade the boredom that the pacing attracts? I wish I could say yes, but I can’t.

3 sheep

Your turn!

How many sheep would you give Life?


One Comment

  1. Watching this film is like sitting across from an uncle or old relative when your a kid, interested at first in the tale they are going to tell. Until you find out too many minutes later that they just aren’t that interesting. The story they try to tell is interesting and has its moments … but they lack the energy and charisma to keep you interested. So, you find yourself drifting off into your own self concious as old uncle Walter lights another filterless cigarette, and as the smoke lingers slowly ….dancing around the room like the souls of dead children you realize this story would be so much better if that cool funny guy from the pool hall you always see on Tuesdays nights was telling it. Direction is a major factor beyond individual performances when attempting to tell a story about a guy trying to tell a story subconciously about his time with another guy that is unsure if he wants to tell stories! Get it? Didn’t think so. Pace wasn’t the problem, nor performance of actors, simply put, this was not the proper project for talented Anton, there should have been a different last name on his chair.

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