What it's about:
A photographer for Life Magazine is assigned to shoot pictures of James Dean.
What we thought:When it comes to movie stars James Dean is somewhat of a mythical Hollywood icon. This iconic status is largely due to the fact that he died young just when his star was on the rise.
It is also partly due to an in-depth photo essay that appeared in the magazine Life in 1955 mere months before he died.
The movie Life is the story of how this photo-spread came to be. Freelance photographer Dennis Stock (Robert Pattinson) met James Dean (Dean DeHaan) at a celebrity party, the actor had just completed filming the movie East of Eden and was waiting to hear if he landed the role in Rebel Without A Cause.Dennis is an ambitious photographer who had to fill up his portfolio with celebrity red carpet snaps and set photos. But he’s over it and in search of something deeper - capturing a subject and creating art.Dennis sees something in Dean; a new type of actor and pursues him relentlessly to capture it.But James gives Dennis the runaround. One moment he’s interested and the next he is not. He’s moody and indecisive which is quite frustrating for Dennis. The plot is twofold: We have Dennis’ story on the one hand - we get to meet his ex-wife and his son who he has an awkward relationship with. You get the feeling that Dennis lives life through his camera lens but doesn’t have a life of his own.The other part of the story focuses on James, who was probably the first anti-celebrity. He angers studio boss Jack Warner (Ben Kingsley) when he refuses to play the celebrity game for the publicity of the movie, East of Eden.In an act of rebellion James packs up and disappears to the family farm in Indiana convincing Dennis to tag along and that’s where the shoot eventually comes together. Both Pattinson and DeHaan give great performances but the script has no life: the pace is slow and it feels like the movie just doesn’t go anywhere. There are also unnecessary scenes which were added just to fill up the story. Visually the movie is beautiful and a lot of detail was put into creating the “worlds” the characters lived in. But you don’t really get to know Dennis and James. The film just skirts the surface but doesn’t delve deeper into the heart of the characters. You get bits of the story but you’re not really invested in the characters. This film is strictly for James Dean fans. Everyone else need not really apply.
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