Life: A Review
With 2015 marking the 60th anniversary of iconic young actor, James Dean’s horrific death, a film celebrating the beginning of his career seems fitting. However, with the best efforts of Dutch photographer and film director, Anton Corbijn, Life leaves the audience emotionless and unconnected.
Life follows a specific period of James Dean’s life, the meeting between the star-to-be and the photographer Dennis Stock, who is known for taking some of Dean’s most well-known photographs. On one hand, there’s Dennis Stock, a struggling photographer, who is not completely happy with his life. As he tries desperately to build a name for himself, he photographs some of Hollywood’s hottest celebrities for Life magazine. Then, there’s fresh-faced James Dean, who has just finished the East of Eden filming. He finds himself at a turning point in his career. Done with the ‘little jobs’, Dean is off to a promising start in the film industry, but not yet famous enough to get the attention of this private milieu. Stock’s agent is not thrilled by the idea of publishing photographs of unknown James Dean in Life magazine. But Stock is determined that Dean will become more famous and foresees him as a new Hollywood legend, with a friendship blooming between the pair.
Life is an aesthetically pleasing film, with it transporting the audience into the peculiar atmosphere of New York during the 1950’s. This is achieved through the retro style, old typical bars and wonderfully designed costumes.
Unfortunately the actors really let this film down, with them leaving the audience feeling dissatisfied. Robert Pattinson (Remember Me, Water For Elephants) plays Dennis Stock an ambivalent character, supposedly persuaded of the necessity of taking photographs of Dean. However, Pattinson fails to engross the audience into the story, and his character. He is emotionless with his unconvincing portrayal of Stock lacking credibility.
Dane DeHann (Kill Your Darlings) manages to save the film somewhat. His charm is evident from the beginning and the audience is immediately able to connect with him more than Stock. In saying this, DeHann’s performance does lack the fascination and sparkle that James Dean possessed, which is an aspect this film really needs in order to be memorable.
The friendship between the two characters is uninspired, with it lacking chemistry and interest. With Life being, focused around Stock and Dean’s friendship, with both actors failing to have the much-needed connection, it leaves the audience disinterested and bored.
Life conveys the atmosphere of the 1950’s perfectly, but James Dean fans will be left feeling bitterly disappointed.