WRITTEN BY: Luke Davies
DIRECTED BY: Anton Corbijn
STARRING: Robert Pattinson, Dane DeHaan, Joel Edgerton
RATING: 3 stars
Dennis Stock (Robert Pattinson) is a photographer bored of shooting Hollywood red carpets when he meets James Dean (Dane DeHaan) at a party. Stock befriends Dean before the release of his first major film, East of Eden. Stock can see that Dean is on the cusp of becoming widely famous so he convinces the young and awkward actor to be photographed for Life magazine.
I should preface this review by mentioning that I am obsessed with James Dean so I am far more critical of every tiny aspect of this film than general audiences might be. Working in the film's favour is the excellent attention to detail by the set and costume designers, including real photographs of Dean in his childhood home. Unfortunately, while DeHaan is a fantastic actor, he looks nothing like Dean. There are a few moments where he poses the same way as the icon and he mumbles similarly to the way Dean spoke, but it is hard not to compare his performance to that of James Franco who can look a lot like Dean and nails his nuances so well in the 2001 biopic.
Pattinson does his best to make Stock interesting but there is not enough substance in the plot to make audiences care about him, perhaps because his real life story was not all that fascinating. Stock was a wonderful photographer and his images of Dean remain significant because they captured the rebel in the comfort of his home and on the streets of New York several months before his tragic death. But as the subject of a story himself, there was not enough to sustain an almost two-hour film about Stock's personal life and struggle to get Dean to pose for the photographs. Nonetheless, there is some interest for hardcore fans to see the moments that built before the famous snaps were taken.
Life coincides with the 60th anniversary of Dean's death. I would recommend watching East of Eden, Rebel Without A Cause and Giant if you want to initiate yourself with the man whose acting style inspired many modern day actors.