With globalization and increasing avenues for, and types of, entertainment, the idea of a movie star is slipping into the past. Anton Corbijn memorializes this past in Life, a low-key drama about a paparazzo’s (Rob Pattinson) photo-essay on James Dean (Dane DeHaan). The version of Dean we get is taciturn, sarcastic, at once interested in, sure of, yet afraid of commercial success. Life recalls The End of the Tour, another gloomy drama about an interview with a star, writer David Foster Wallace, who died tragically. Moving around from L.A. to New York City to Dean’s hometown, in Indiana, Life is more dynamic than The End of the Tour. But it presents a similar narrative of an ordinary guy, nostalgic for the idyll of the midwest, skeptical of big city forces. What’s missing is the rebel in Dean. Those who knew him in New York City when he was at the Actor’s Studio could recall acts of daredevilry that prompted some to remark, “Well, this guy’s not gonna live long.” He didn’t. James Dean died at twenty-four.
By Alec Julian & Carrie White