Dane DeHaan in Life (2015)

Taking Stock of Life

Life photographer Dennis Stock (Robert Pattinson) is introduced to James Dean (Dane DeHaan) just as he is on the cusp of making it as an actor and he becomes intrigued by the enigmatic young man. Spotting an opportunity to make a name for himself and escape the drudgery of shooting stars on the red carpets he sets out to take some candid shots of Jimmy as part of a story of an emerging actor's life. But whilst he strikes up a friendship and is drawn in to Jimmy's social circles he struggles to convince his boss that his idea has potential even after handing in some observational photos.

On paper "Life" is like this clever biopic which tries to give us a glimpse at the life of James Dean through the friendship he struck up with photographer Dennis Stock. As such we get shown various facets of Dean's life from the young actors and artists he would party with to his contempt for some of the way that the movie business operated. We also get a glimpse at Dean's family, his Quaker folks and the farm they live on. Plus of course we get some of those famous photos being recreated.

Robert Pattinson in Life (2015)

The trouble with this is that "Life" is one horrendously dull movie filled with dull character and dull dialogue. It didn't need to be that way but it is so monotonously slow that you begin to wonder if this is how James Dean was in real life how in heck did he become a star. I just don't understand why the movie had to be this slow as it adds nothing to the movie other than making it feel drawn out and the dialogue seem even more mundane than it is.

But here is one of the curious things, and one of the knock on things I realised as I watched "Life", and that is James Dean was a man with a changing look. I say that because to be honest I would never have cast Dane DeHaan as James Dean because of the way he looks yet there are scenes where he looks like Dean, not the classic images of James Dean the movie star but he looks like Dean from some of those earlier, candid shots of him. As such DeHaan actually does quite a nice job of playing Dean as this enigmatic character who because his attitude was different he came across as enigmatic, although in this at times that borders on the pretentious.

What this all boils down to is that "Life" didn't so it for me, I found it painfully slow and not at all engaging. Yet at the same time there is some thing still interesting about the movie and the glimpse of Dean's life it tries to get across.