Film review: Life (7 out of 10)

Dane DeHaan and Robert Pattinson in Life
Dane DeHaan and Robert Pattinson in Life

Sixty years ago a young actor and photographer were both on the edge of becoming household names in their respective artistic careers.

James Dean was fast becoming recognised as an excting talent in the movie industry with his brooding looks and emotional approach to acting.

Dennis Stock was also on the cusp of producing some extraordinary photos, including the iconic image of James Dean, huddled against the rain

Life takes a snapshot of the most important time in their lives, when they met and helped each other to success. Of course it also refers to the magazine that carried many of Stock’s photos.

Robert Pattinson plays Stock and gives further proof that the Londoner wasn’t just a one franchise wonder with Twilight.

And Dane DeHaan is very good as Dean, showing the potential that was hinted at in Chronicle (2012).

Sir Ben Kinglsey gives some added gravitas with his role as the movie mogul Jack Warner but, to be honest, this is really a two-hander.

We have plenty of famous characters popping in and out, such as Eartha Kitt, Natalie Wood and Raymond Massey.

But this movie is all about the chemistry of the main duo and an attempt to delve into the psyche of each young man.

Stock had been married in his teens and separated before his son was born, leaving him something of an emotional void.

Dean is shown as having a solid family life back on the farm and being totally bemused and frustrated by the media nonsense that surrounded his success.

You get a real sensation of each man’s inner struggles.

But anyone looking for a specific plot or a story arc may end up a little frustrated.

The characters are the focus all the way and director Anton Corbijn, an accomplished photographer himself, lets his actors lead the way, just using his experienced eye to set some stunning backgrounds.

It’s also good to see the original photos during the end credits, revealing just how well the film scenes were staged.

Dean died just aged 24 in the autumn of 1955, while Stock went on to have a blossoming career, living until aged 81.

Hopefully, the younger audiences will be inspired to check out Dean’s films and Stock’s pictures - they are still an inspiration in the 21st century.

Film details: Life (15) 111mins

Director: Anton Corbijn

Starring: Dane DeHaan, Robert Pattinson

Screening courtesy of Horsham Capitol

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