Monday, 7 September, 2015

3 stars

Even though he only starred in three films, made some sixty years ago now, US actor James Dean remains, if not a household name, then certainly one that quickly comes to mind. Dead, at the age of just twenty-four, as the result of a car accident in 1955, Dean’s bright flame was extinguished far too early.

Life scene

And if hadn’t have been for the tenacity, and persistence, of up and coming freelance photographer, Dennis Stock, there may have been far fewer images of the awkward, withdrawn, actor’s home and family life, to say nothing of the iconic Times Square photo depicting Dean trudging the rain soaked streets of New York City.

We meet the two emerging, yet frustrated, talents in Life, trailer, the latest feature by Anton Corbijn (“The American”, “A Most Wanted Man”), as Dean (Dane DeHaan) waits to hear if he is to be cast in what would be his defining role, Rebel Without A Cause, while Stock (Robert Pattinson), yearns to be more than a photojournalist.

Life scene

After meeting at a party, Stock is keen to collaborate with Dean, but the actor is reluctant. He soon changes his mind, and invites Stock along on a visit to see his family in rural Indiana. It is this trip that is meant to be a turning point for both, and the story’s decisive moment, but the momentum is already flagging.

The despair of Dean and Stock, becomes our despair. Corbijn attempts to make something of the dynamic between the two, one that perhaps, in reality, was far less substantial. Sadly not even Joel Edgerton, and Ben Kingsley, in a showy part as film producer Jack Warner, are able to do much to lift the mood either.

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