Just Keep Swimming

'Life' Trailer Shows a Beautiful and Atmospheric Take on the Standard Biopic Formula

Biopics are the superhero movies of the Oscar movie season and actually, the population may even be denser. So, it is understandably hard to stand out if you're not hitched to a major studio or one of its independent labels. Despite that fact, I'm still shocked at the absolute lack of buzz over a movie depicting one of the most iconic American movie stars of all time, James Dean. Just because the awards prognosticators aren't betting on Anton Corbijn's Life being a major contender, doesn't mean that it won't be that or more importantly, that it won't be any good, because they're often is a sleeper that slips in. If this movie did have any awards' hopes or that the distributors had ample faith in its quality then it should be entered in some of the major festivals of the fall.

This looks pretty standard biopic formula along with the annoying trend of a character having to tell us how much of a genius the picture's subject is rather than trusting the story to show us that. The cast here is fantastic with Ben Kingsley as Warner Brothers' studio head Jack Warner, Joel Edgerton as renowned Times picture editor John G. Morris, Robert Pattinson as the photographer who 'discovered' Dean, and Dane Dehaan as the legend himself.

Pattinson has broken away from the Twilight shadow and really proven himself to be a diverse actor and one who wants to take on challenging roles (he was really good in last year's The Rover). Dehaan is destined for an Academy Award some day and has been able to comfortably jump from down-to-earth relatable roles to creepy sinister types. The cool and cocky type is a little different for him but he looks to be nailing it.

Corbijn directed A Most Wanted Man last year, which was not only a slickly paced thriller that drew out some amazing performances from Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rachel McAdams and Robin Wright, but had a distinct visual style that set the mood and tone of the picture. His movies ooze style and emotions due to the careful crafting of the visuals on the screen. This looks like another picture where the cinematography and scenery are going to enrich the storytelling. There are enough intriguing parts here to elevate past what may be a standard biopic script.