Life (2015 film)
|Directed by||Anton Corbijn|
|Produced by||Iain Canning
|Screenplay by||Luke Davies|
|Music by||Owen Pallett|
|Cinematography||Charlotte Bruus Christensen|
|Edited by||Nick Fenton|
First Generation Films
Barry Films Production
|Distributed by||Transmission Films|
Life is a 2015 drama film directed by Anton Corbijn and written by Luke Davies. It is based on the friendship of Life photographer Dennis Stock and Hollywood actor James Dean, starring Robert Pattinson as Stock and Dane DeHaan as Dean.
The story follows Dennis Stock, who works at the Magnum Photos Agency and got an assignment to shoot rising Hollywood star James Dean, before the release of East of Eden. Friendship developed between them during the assignment, as the pair traveled from Los Angeles to New York to Indiana.
- Robert Pattinson as Dennis Stock
- Dane DeHaan as James Dean
- Ben Kingsley as Jack Warner
- Joel Edgerton as John G. Morris
- Alessandra Mastronardi as Pier Angeli
- Stella Schnabel as Norma
- Michael Therriault as Elia Kazan
- Kristen Hager as Veronica
- Kelly McCreary as Eartha Kitt
- Michael Therriault as Elia Kazan
- Eva Fisher as Judy Garland
- Jack Fulton as Rodney Stock (Dennis's son)
- Kasey Lea as Markie (Marcus Winslow Jr., Dean's cousin)
- Peter J. Lucas as Nicholas Ray
- Lauren Gallagher as Natalie Wood
- John Blackwood as Raymond Massey
- Caitlin Stewart as Julie Harris
- Nicholas Rice as Lee Strasberg
Luke Davies start writing the script in 2010. He was initially interested to write a script about James Dean but as he researched about Dean, he found that the one thing which stood out most was Dean's images at Time Square by Dennis Stock. After that Davies found more about Stock and wrote the screenplay for the film. Corbijn initially turned down the offer to make biopic on James Dean. But the story of the photographer Dennis Stock interested him more as "(the photographer and the subject) You know, who influences who? The James Dean portion of the story wasn’t my interest."
Talking about the casting, Anton Corbijn said that "Rob has an intensity that I think Dennis would have. When I see Rob, I see an inner turmoil that is great for the role and Dane is really interesting. He has a beautiful face, but it's a hard face to grasp. It's hard to see how Dane reads [on screen] sometimes, and the same goes for James Dean." Corbijn later revealed that "Rob was quickly on the horizon for me, and after we met I didn’t meet anyone else for that (Dennis Stock's) role." While producers Iain Canning and Emile Sherman said that "Finding the right actor to play James Dean was a big responsibility, but Dane’s body of work has proved what a chameleon he is and what he will contribute to the role" and further added that "Casting Robert Pattinson and Dane DeHaan brings together two of the most exciting young actors of their generation."
In February 2014, Ben Kingsley joined the cast as president of the Warner Bros. Studios, Jack Warner. Writer Luke Davies joined the film in cameo appearance. On March 14, 2014, it was announced that Joel Edgerton has joined the cast of the film as Magnum Photography editor John G. Morris. Initially Corbijn offered Philip Seymour Hoffman with whom he previously worked on A Most Wanted Man the role of John G. Morris (later played by Edgerton) in the film, which according to Corbijn, "(Hoffman was) trying to find a way to make it work" due to his earlier commitments but he passed away before the filming begin for the film. Edgerton, about his involvement in the film said that "It was a situation where it was never going to be something I was involved in but for certain circumstances. They lost an actor, I love these people, I love everything they’re about, the story and script was really fascinating. So I left working on Jeff Nichols’s movie in New Orleans and just scooted across to Toronto literally for three days and shot five, six scenes. It was a blast."
Production began for film in February 2014. Glen Basner CEO of FilmNation Entertainment which handled the international sales of the film, talking about the film said that "We were fortunate to work with Anton on A Most Wanted Man and are thrilled to be a part of his next film, his incredible talent combined with the chemistry between Dane and Robert will bring to life the fascinating story of the fast friendship formed at a very pivotal time in Dean’s life."
Talking about portraying James Dean, DeHaan said that "He had a very specific voice so I've gotta have it, too! It's a challenge. His voice was a lot higher than mine, but it's fun, you know, that's what I like to do. The harder it is, the more fun it is, but it's definitely a challenge, for sure."
Pattinson said that his character in the film "(is)‘a really bad dad. And you don’t really see that in young guy parts. He just doesn’t love his kid, or is incapable of it, and it kind of pains him." He also described the film that "It’s a little ego battle, and a lot of it is about professional jealousy, and who’s a better artist, who’s the subject and who’s the artist." And added that's what drew him to the role in the film.
Principal photography began on February 18, 2014 in Toronto, Canada and continued till March 27, 2014. Pattinson filmed a scene in snow in Toronto on February 18, 2014. On February 20, 2014, filming took place at 33rd Maitland street Toronto. Filming took place inside and outside of a building in Downtown Toronto on February 21, 2014 with Pattinson, Kingsley and DeHaan. Pattinson and DeHaan filmed scenes at the farm outside of Toronto on February 26 to March 1, 2014. On March 4, 2014, filming took place downtown Millbrook near Peterborough at King Street, which was transformed into the 1950s era and at the Pastry Peddler shop which was transformed into a 1950s shoe store. A rainy scene was shot in downtown Toronto on March 7, 2014. On March 8, 2014 filming took place at Bay Street in downtown Toronto, which was transformed into 1950s New York City street. On March 11, 2014, Pattinson and DeHaan shot a motorcycle riding scene in Toronto, on a bike resembling a 1955 Trophy Triumph, James Dean's bike. On March 15, 2014, filming took place at Victoria and King streets in downtown Toronto with Pattinson and Edgerton. Scenes shot at 71 Gloucester Street Toronto on March 20, 2014.
After Toronto, filming moved to Los Angeles, California. Filming took place at Chateau Marmont on March 30, 2014. On March 31, 2014, scenes were shot at Pantages Theatre, which was transformed as it was at the premiere of 1954 film A Star Is Born. Filming finally wrapped up on April 1, 2014.
Producer Christina Piovesan talking about the outdoor filming said that, "There’s a huge section that takes place exterior on a farm, and Rob and Dane are in period costumes that are so slight while the crew were covered from head to toe with only eyes showing. They were such troopers to be shooting with Anton in this brutal weather. The environment was hostile, but you can’t tell when you watch it, and that’s a testament to how professional they are."
Promotion and marketing
Entertainment Weekly released the first image of Pattinson and DeHaan as Stock and Dean in the film on March 6, 2014. In September 2013, Transmission Films acquired the Australian distribution rights of the film. FilmNation Entertainment presented 15 minutes of footage from the film at 2014 Cannes Film Festival market. Following which SquareOne Entertainment acquired the German distribution rights of the film. It was also presented as an upcoming attraction along with other films at 2014 Toronto International Film Festival.
Along with the announcement of film's premiere at Berlin International Film Festival, two stills from the film featuring DeHaan and Pattinson were released. On February 3, 2015, The Hollywood Reporter released an article about film's making along with another image of Pattinson and DeHaan. On February 9, 2015, after its premiere at Berlinale, a scene featuring Pattinson and DeHaan was released.
The film received mixed reviews from the critics but Pattinson and DeHaan received appreciations for their portrayal of Stock and Dean. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 40% rating based on reviews from 5 critics, with an average score of 6/10. Metacritic gives the film a score of 62 based on reviews from 4 critics, indicating "favorable reviews".
Tim Robey of The Daily Telegraph gave the film four out of five stars by saying that " it’s an interestingly personal picture about that moment when the shutter snaps, and how it changes the nature of any human interaction" and about performances that "the underrated Pattinson is playing a cold fish here, and does a credible job getting inside Dennis’s aura of shifty desperation" and "DeHaan gives us very much his own Dean, and he’s immediately rather fascinating." Guy Lodge of Variety said that "peculiarly moving, even subtly queer friendship between the two men that distinguishes “Life” from standard inside-Hollywood fare, while gorgeous production values and ace star turns make it a thoroughly marketable arthouse prospect" and added that "DeHaan and Pattinson enact this anti-romance beautifully, each man quizzically eyeing the other for leads and clues, while coyly retreating from scrutiny. Pattinson, adding to his post-“Twilight” gallery of sharp-cut screw-ups, brings intriguing layers of childish dysfunction to a character who is only ostensibly the straight man in the partnership. DeHaan, meanwhile, plays Dean as the more openly flirtatious of the two, a flashier generational companion to his louchely inspired Lucien Carr in 2013’s “Kill Your Darlings.”" Stephen Schaefer of Boston Herald in his review said that, "LIFE is fairly low-key, yet it breathes with an honesty and an astuteness" and that "Pattinson is perfectly cast as Stock, a man adrift with an ex-wife from a teenage marriage and guilt filled about the young son he never sees. DeHaan doesn’t exactly resemble Dean so much as inhabit his Fifties hipster lingo, attitude and speech patterns." Little White Lies gave the film a positive review by saying that "As Life proceeds the pace picks up and by the third act, it is a compelling dramatisation of an artistically fascinating alliance." About performance it added that "DeHaan ratchets up Dean’s rhythmic speech and sounds permanently like a performance poet reading Allan Ginsberg. He is curt and minimal essaying a very controlled, clock-watching professional" and "Pattinson's performance is as crisp as the white shirt and black suits his character always wears. This is a camouflage for his own problems that slowly unfurl, adding colour and improving the film."
While David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter criticized the film that "Life doesn't deliver on its considerable promise" but ultimately praised Pattinson that "While Pattinson has endured a lot of gratuitous bashing post-Twilight, he gives arguably the most fully rounded performance here, even if the character is inconsistently drawn." Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian gave the film two stars out of five and notes that, "There are some pleasing touches, but this film is a frustrating experience."
- The James Dean Story
- James Dean - 2001 biographical television film
- Beyond Iconic: Photographer Dennis Stock - 2011 biographical documentary film
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- Life at the Internet Movie Database
- Life at AllMovie
- Life at Rotten Tomatoes
- Life at Metacritic
- Dennis Stock - Magnum Photos Photographer Portfolio