Life. Oh Life. Many people disregard Desiree's 90s hit as the most pointless song ever written. It is an unfortunate comparison to draw, a somewhat frivolous and irrelevant song and Anton Corbijn's directed biopic 'Life', but let's be honest, I'd rather have had a piece of toast and watched the evening news.
The film follows a young James Dean (Dane DeHaan) just before the release of his first breakout role in 'East of Eden.' At a party, Dean strikes up a friendship with a somewhat uptight photographer, Dennis Stock (Robert Pattinson). The two form an unlikely friendship that leads to the iconic photo spread that eventually graces the pages of the magazine Life (hence the name of the film).
It is so hard to act as someone so recognisable, so iconic and so unique that poor DeHaan must have been incredibly intimidated by this starring role. It's hard to watch for the first part, his slow soft way of talking almost caricaturises Dean, making him seem like that one kid we all knew growing up who pretended to read the classics or poetry just to seem cool and for nothing beyond that. He is portrayed as the rebellious actor that we are all familiar with, but in 'Life' he seems more obnoxious than anything else, also much like that kid we all knew growing up. The make-up is heavy and the wigs only ever really look like wigs, only furthering his caricaturisation.
The relationship between the uptight Stock and the laid-back and almost carefree Dean seems to have been sanitised. During their first interactions, it seems like we're about to witness a blossoming love story - a hidden love, but a love nonetheless. The sexual tension is rife throughout, and even prompted the lady next to me to ask in none too soft a voice "When are they going to kiss?" Not only did I chortle but I completely agreed. It would at least have given the film some edge. Instead, we get a rather bland attempt at showing how some of the most iconic images of Dean were created.
The relationship between the uptight Stock and the laid-back and almost carefree Dean seems to have been sanitised.
These photos are amazing, there is no doubt about that. But the film was so long and the photography started to take such a back seat that the premise started to get lost in itself, and by the end of the film I was confused as to what it had set out to achieve. The final scene left everyone scratching their heads and wishing they (like the subject of the unstomachable poem) were able to find their own way home, if not be there already. 'Life', contrary to what we are all taught, isn't short. Get comfy - you're going to be here for a while, and by the end of it probably question why you stayed.