I will always be wary of any review by Variety‘s suspiciously dweeby Guy Lodge, but his Berlin Film Festival reaction to Anton Corbijn‘s Life, a feature about the relationship between Life photographer Dennis Stock (Robert Pattinson) and James Dean (Dane DeHaan), is somewhat encouraging. Life is “an engaging, elegiac portrait of a legend in the making,” Lodge writes, and “a loving valentine from photographer-turned-helmer Corbijn to his name-making profession.” But the most profound aspect, he says, is the “peculiarly moving, even subtly queer friendship between the two men” along with “gorgeous production values.” On top of which DeHaan, he says, delivers a “magnetic” capturing of Dean. The Hollywood Reporter‘s David Rooney disagrees. He’s calling Life a “letdown” that “doesn’t deliver on its promise,” and describing DeHaan’s performance as “more studied than inhabited.”
Robert Pattinson, chunky-faced Dane DeHaan in Anton Corbijn’s Life.
But of course, one look at the set photos tells you DeHaan is actually playing a Dean who never existed, a Chris Pratt-styled Dean who’s at least 10 pounds heavier than he was in real life. All Corbijn needed to do was say to DeHaan before filming, “Uhhm, you need to drop at least 10 pounds, man…stop drinking, hit the treadmill.” Too hard! A slightly fuller-faced Dean will have to do.
The Real McCoy on Manhattan streets in winter of 1955.