James Dean’s legacy truly has been a lasting one with fans young and old inspired by his work in a career curtailed by tragedy. Singer/Songwriter Halsey sings his praises on current radio hit New Americana, an anthem of sorts for a new generation.
LIFE recounts the intense relationship between two friends, photographer Dennis Stock (Robert Pattinson) and James Dean (Dane DeHaan), the subject of his photos featured in a mini-essay published in Life Magazine prior to his meteoric rise in 1955. Despite starting a bit rocky, Stock and Dean strike a connection which would both catapult their careers and a friendship lasting beyond the latter’s untimely death at the height of his fame. With an aversion to the spotlight, Dean is a bit hesitant to open-up to Stock until the two venture outside the bright lights of New York to Indiana, revisiting the actor’s roots, a setting to the eventually iconic photo series.
Despite this being a Film about the collaborative process and friendship, Director Anton Corbijn (Control, The American) very much has crafted an intense drama and beautifully-shot portrait of an icon who manages to be just as intriguing posthumously to this day, some 60 years after his death. As a Photographer himself, Corbijn has a keen eye to detail and the Film feels authentic to the era it was always, with Toronto substituting for New York convincingly.
DeHaan delivers an unforgettable, spot-on monologue where we learn Dean’s childhood and how his relationship with his late mother and family crafted his art and overall is outstanding in Dean’s awkward introvert which somehow is offset by a desire to perform and be seen. Pattinson also delivers a phenomenal performance, understanding both Stock’s unrelenting ambition, yet lack of direction in so many other aspects of his life.
LIFE indeed is slow-moving, but respects Stock’s craft and the process behind the art and as a character study, is utterly fascinating and perhaps one of the most intimate glimpses we’ll get into the mind of James Dean.
eOne Films release LIFE on Friday, December 4, 2015 in Toronto, Calgary, Saskatoon, Halifax and Vancouver. It hits stores and VOD on Tuesday, January 12, 2016.