LIFE

 (212)
6.01 h 51 min2015R
A photographer for LIFE Magazine is assigned to shoot pictures of James Dean.
Directors
Anton Corbijn
Starring
Robert PattinsonJoel EdgertonDane DeHaan
Genres
DramaArthouse
Subtitles
English [CC]
Audio languages
English
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Supporting actors
Alessandra MastronardiBen Kingsley
Producers
Iain CanningBenito MuellerWolfgang MuellerChristina PiovesanEmile Sherman
Studio
See Saw (Life) Distribution Pty Limited
Rating
R (Restricted)
Content advisory
Nudityalcohol usesmokingfoul languagesexual content
Purchase rights
Stream instantly Details
Format
Prime Video (streaming online video)
Devices
Available to watch on supported devices

Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

212 global ratings

  1. 66% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 12% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 12% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 3% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 6% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

D. LarsonReviewed in the United States on November 17, 2020
3.0 out of 5 stars
You're tearing me....oh, um, er....never mind. It's not important.
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Was the real James Dean a just mumbling, mopey self-absorbed poseur with an impressive pompadour? Did he really drag a bongo drum around as an emotional support instrument? Dane DeHann’s performance sure makes a case for narcissism run amok combined with a delivery so low energy that you suspect some sort of metabolic problem. Low thyroid function? Check his pulse ox? Inertia is DeHann’s go-to emotion here.

Most of us know James Dean only from Turner Classics and maybe the Porsche crash. What I know is “East of Eden”, where Dean as the “bad” brother does a lot of agonizing and has father issues. And “Rebel” which was a lot more fun, what with knife fights, Griffith Park, cool jackets and the famous “chickie run” ending with a nice car over the cliff! “You’re tearing me apart!” on the other hand, kind of too easily lends to parody.

And “Giant” in which Dean is at least not the most bad actor in an interminably bad movie. He does have some of the worst instant aging makeup in memory, though. So, a sensitive, insightful examination of this troubled young man, kind of lost on me.

Also lost because, while I remember Life magazine being a fixture at my grandparents’ house, the reference is going to be lost on anyone younger than me. Life was a very big deal in the ‘50’s. But that was a long time ago, and the idea of photojournalists building portfolios is a stretch for those immersed in social media influencers. This is a loving postcard from 60 years ago when magazine spreads could make a career, and everybody smoked. All the time. Wow, do a lot of lungs give their all for this picture. The sets must have just reeked.

So, other than a milieu remote from most of us, how is it? Depends on your patience. This is a movie about stasis; James Dean, on the threshold of stardom, is stuck. Dennis Stock (Pattinson) is stuck. Indiana is where they’re stuck, and nothing much happening there. Indecision, reluctance to engage, general moping and some minor backstory about Stock’s failed marriage and failing fatherhood, and fade to black. Stock is the young man on the make, hustling to get ahead. Dean can have it all but can’t make himself want it. Considering the brief moment the real men’s lives intersected, seems like a thin peg to hang a movie on.

Action fans or those wanting salacious details should look elsewhere. Aside from a little Benzedrine and many, many cigarettes, nothing gritty. A few longing looks between Dean and Stock is about it.

Back when he made those execrable “Twilight” movies, Robert Pattinson seemed not much more than a pale but pretty cipher. Best you could say is that his sparkly emo-vampire was prettier than Kristen Stewart. Surprisingly enough, he’s turned out to be a pretty darn good journeyman actor in a lot of things. Just saw “The Lighthouse” and he’s truly remarkable in what should be a ridiculous role. Kid grew into it!

So, two people doing their level best to recreate the era of movie moguls (Ben Kingsley, just great!) and NYC diners and Midwest farm life. Good? I don’t know. To me, a movie I finished because I’d started it and I didn’t feel like getting off the Airdyne to find another channel. Art house types might get more out of it. It’s a movie about movie making that has not a moment of the making of movies. If you thought Dean was a genius, go for it. If, like me, you think of James Dean as just this guy, y’know? Maybe give it a pass. But if you still like Pattinson, check out “The Lighthouse”. A lot more fun than the art house reputation might indicate.
3 people found this helpful
Richard MasloskiReviewed in the United States on July 29, 2016
2.0 out of 5 stars
LIFE...is DEAD
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If the real James Dean was anything at all like the James Dean portrayed in this movie by Dane DeHann, then the real Dean's career would have gone no further than his first time on film in the 1950 Pepsi commercial - if even that far! And, therefore, without a James Dean as historic fact this film would never have been made - and that would have been a good thing. Look, no one can BE Dean and it isn't a clone that is necessarily desired when films are made of the legendary actor. But Stephen McHattie, James Franco and even Casper Van Dien have all given us embodiments of some sense of the real Dean. All three actors captured something of Dean's charisma, his tortured soul, his many moods. In LIFE, DeHann gives us a Dean that seems perpetually stoned. DeHann's Dean has no charm, no danger, no moods, no sexual appeal, nada. It is a one note, wimpy performance. For those who argue that the Dean in this film is meant to suggest his character more than his look, well, why then bother to attach phony earlobes to the actor's own lobeless ears - given that the real Dean had earlobes - and pop in darker blue contact lens to approximate Dean's own darker-than-DeHann's eyes blue? Why bother with the outward if naught of the inward is captured? And that voice! In the Extra, DeHann says he listened to Dean's voice to better approximate it in his performance. That is hard-to-believe, because the imitation is so far off in every particular.

But what about the movie? Well, if you are going to make a movie with such an iconic actor as its centerpiece, you need to capture something of what made that actor iconic in the first place. All three above mentioned actors who've played Dean before would have given this film a solid center. But with DeHann, the shock of the performance never abates and the movie suffers enormously from it. Now, if Robert Pattinson - the able actor who plays photographer Dennis Stock - had been made-up to approximate Dean instead and had been given the lead role, the film would have had a much stronger center. Pattinson...can act! And even though he is playing the photographer, throughout the film I kept thinking what a much better Dean he would have than DeHann. Anyway, even though the movie was beautifully photographed and its subject - two weeks in the lives of the actor and his photographer - a very good one, apart from the terrible Dean performance, the minimalist script destroys whatever promise there may have been. Yes, this is an illiterate age where people text more than talk - and have little or nothing to say - witness the increasing amounts of one-word or few-word or totally irrelevant to the topic Amazon reviews ("Good", "Great," "It came in the mail as promised," "My Uncle Charlie will love it,"). So this sacrifice of the verbal to the visual has given us movies that are practically ALL visual (CGI driven turkeys) or movies whose scripts are more like transcriptions of textings than the real way people talk - or used to! Many modern scriptwriters have grown lazy in their historic research or simply do not have all that much to say so they leave it to the actors, the photography, the music to fill in the blanks. The written word is in danger of extinction - not just on the movie screen which not only mirrors but also inspires everyday life, but in the real world! People...are becoming zombies! And the characters in this movie are as zombies. The real Dean and his day were frantic with ideas, alive to the moment, anxious to be heard, desirous to live, emotive, volatile, exciting, and most of all ALIVE! All the things this snooze-fest film is not. LIFE...is dead.
9 people found this helpful
C. KnippReviewed in the United States on February 4, 2016
4.0 out of 5 stars
He made many great photos, none so memorable as these
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LIFE (Anton Corbijn 2015). A touching, elegant little film about the memorable encounter of Dennis Sotck, the Magnum photographer, with James Dean, who had just finished Eaast of Eden and was on the cusp of fame. Stock and Dean were in a sense both struggling to establish themselves as artists. Stock recognized Dean's extraordinary talent and thought a photo story abut him for Life Magazine might make them both famous. Stock had difficulty accomplishing this, his ideas not accepted by his Magnum boss, his sketchy career, an estranged wife and neglected little boy; Dean had difficulties of his own with the studio's need to manipulate his image. Somehow they went to the farm in Indiana where Dean grew up, and the legendary Life photo story resulted. The brief friendship followed Stock all his life and long, successful career. He made many great photos, none so memorable as these. Dean was dead in seven months. Anton Corbijn is first and foremost a photographer, and was the man to make this movie. Dane DeHaan isn't as handsome or striking as Dean, but he is a terrific actor. It's like catching lightening in a bottle. But it has some memorable moments. Robert Pattinson plays Stock. Watched in VOD (Amazon) 14 Dec. 2015. (Opened in NYC 4 Dec.) -- NEW YORK MOVIE JOURNAL (Dec. 2015-Jan. 2016).
3 people found this helpful
Douglas Russell BlackReviewed in the United States on April 19, 2020
4.0 out of 5 stars
Entertaining
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A joint Aussie/Canuck production! Dane DeHann and Robert Pattison are both excellent as James Dean and his photographer. It portrays the unlikely friendship that develops between James Dean and a photographer following him around New York trying to get shots. The acting is superb and the screenplay interesting. Both characters are complex and challenging to play. The two men take a trip together and numerous photos are shot that have become iconic. The real photos of James Dean are displayed at the end of the movie after you have had a look at the circumstances in which they were taken. A trip back in time!
One person found this helpful
D. H.Reviewed in the United States on December 13, 2015
3.0 out of 5 stars
Chic, but rather lifeless on a dramatic level
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In 1955, while awaiting the release of East of Eden and vying for the lead role in Rebel Without a Cause, James Dean met Dennis Stock, an ambitious photographer who saw promise in the actor's agonized, sexy, thoughtful presence and convinced LIFE to commission a photographic profile despite his being largely unknown to the public. Life, directed by Anton Corbijn, dramatizes their interaction, including a trip to the Indiana farm where Dean came of age. It is a rather elegant film with a chic, potent mood, but it simply refuses to spring to dramatic life. The photographer-subject relationship is surely a personal topic for Corbijn, who rose to fame creating atmospheric, definitive images of, among other bands, Joy Division and U2 before a rewarding midlife transition to motion-picture directing (Control, The American), but profundity eludes him even as he provides characteristic aesthetic pleasure, and there is a sense his film inflates the personal significance of Dean and Stock to one another. And though they are too photogenic and intense to not draw one's gaze (à la, yes, James Dean), Robert Pattinson must contend with a thinly conceived role as Stock—protagonist as audience lens as cipher—and Dane DeHaan with arguable miscasting as Dean. I half wonder if they should have switched roles.

See another film from this year, The End of the Tour, for a far more insightful, poignant, and provocative depiction of the relationship (fractious, searching, symbiotic) shared by a journalist and the guarded artist he is interviewing.
2 people found this helpful
Russell SReviewed in the United States on November 22, 2016
5.0 out of 5 stars
LOVE this movie 2 great actors Robert Pattinson and Dane Dehaan.
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Photographer Dennis Stock and Hollywood's rebel actor James Dean, brought together for a LIFE Magazine assignment. Their journey leads to an unbreakable friendship and some of the most iconic images of the age. Let me make something very clear, I loved this movie, it isn't going to be on many top 10 lists and I'm not sure it ever was but forgetting the support cast (which was remarkable) the 2 leads, Robert Pattinson and Dane DeHaan are outrageously GREAT. These are iconic characters that existed and both captured what I believe to be the essence of these men. This odd friendship that created both careers was pivotal to this story. To this very day you will still see the pictures that were taken of James Dean by Robert Stock. This friendship was cut short way too soon. I will also say that I was never really a James Dean Fan so that mkes this review even more. Pure story so don't expect much else.
Diane DavisReviewed in the United States on December 18, 2015
5.0 out of 5 stars
Let's Hear It for the Character-Driven Film!
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I can see why this film might be considered too low key and uneventful for today's movie audiences, and that's too bad. We've come to expect scripts made of sound bites and stories told in spectacular visuals. "Life" reminded me of how rewarding it can be to settle in and eavesdrop on other people coping with their lives. In this case, you have two ambitious young men, who couldn't be more different - in their backgrounds, their personalities, their talents and their approach to attaining success. We're in the unique position of knowing what will become of them, which gives everything an added dimension, reflected in the film's melancholy look and sound. DeHaan overcomes his lack of physical resemblance to Dean with a muttered delivery that's equal parts shy and cocky in keeping with the gentle and arrogant man he portrays. Unlike Stock, Pattinson does not get in his own - or DeHaan's - way, his own charisma muted beneath a desperate and largely directionless need to be respected as an artist. I wish there were more movies as thoughtful and quiet as this one,
34 people found this helpful
pleineluneReviewed in the United States on September 7, 2020
3.0 out of 5 stars
OK - the Three Stars are mostly for 1950's vibe they created
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It wasn't terrible, but didn't really flow. Wasn't really feeling the acting of the two leads.

Watch mostly for the flashback to the 50's. I remember James Dean from Giant. Didn't feel Dane, even with all his mumbling and angst, did James Dean justice. NOT saying Dane isn't a good actor, just not for this part.

Your mileage may vary.
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