From Twilight to The Rover, Robert Pattinson has transformed from a teen heartthrob into an auteurs’ protege.
Futuristic Australian western The Rover (released in the UK on 15th August) has had many critics once again turn their heads towards Robert Pattinson. His performance (along with his co-star Guy Pearce’s) in John Hillcoat’s film was met with critical attention at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. Pattinson could have easily fallen to typecasting as teen romantic leads since his breakthrough role as vampire Edward Cullen in the Twilight franchise – relax, I’m not going to beat this dead horse. So one has to wonder how Pattinson’s managed the turnaround. And what is the appeal that his Twilight co-stars Taylor Lautner and Kristen Stewart haven’t quite garnered?
Pattinson’s honesty has fans and non-fans of Twilight keep an eye on his work. And his work shows versatility and unpredictability
Taylor Lautner has the wholesome family image, and as such lacks any of the grit that many star actors have recently been pursuing. Matthew McConaughey, Zac Efron and Robert Pattinson have all taken grittier or against-the-grain roles to ensure they aren’t limited. In addition, Lautner has really only done Twilight films; others were either panned (Abduction) or forgettable (Valentine’s Day). Kristen Stewart conversely has been in plenty of independent films, some of critical acclaim that do warrant our attention. Into The Wild, What Just Happened and The Runaways are interesting, but unfortunately her bigger roles, and her personal life – which no-one should honestly care about – have overshadowed these.
Whether or not one thinks this is fair, it’s important to note that the damage is done. One of the things that has Pattinson stand out from the rest is his opinion of Twilight. Lautner desperately wanted the role of Jacob, and Stewart is diplomatic when it comes to public opinion towards the franchise, whereas Pattinson has openly ripped into it. It’s this honesty that has fans and non-fans of Twilight keep an eye on his work. And his work, unlike the aforementioned co-stars, shows versatility and unpredictability.
During those Twilight years, Pattinson’s roles were in equal parts varied and troublesome. A few films kept him in the romantic genre, like Remember Me, Love & Distrust and Water for Elephants. His other roles at the beginning of the franchise included Salvador Dali in the poorly executed Little Ashes, and a pseudo-musician in the quarter-life-crisis film How to Be. The same year the final Twilight film, Breaking Dawn – Part 2, was released, Pattinson also starred in Cosmopolis and Bel Ami, the latter of which took a slant on his romantic lead trend, his character Georges Duroy being despicably amoral. And yet, this poorly received mess of a movie decided that Pattinson’s romantic roles were at an end, and it was in the existential sci-fi masterpiece Cosmopolis that his versatility really shone.
Pattinson’s acting style in Cosmpolis resonates strongly – it’s a performance of quiet, restrained uncertainty
David Cronenberg rightly cast Pattinson as Cosmopolis’s amoral, self-centred young billionaire – we were able to see what Bel Ami attempted, only Cronenberg omitted cheap romantic affairs and offered greater depth and intellect. It’s because of this diversion from romantic leads, working with such a prolific filmmaker and starring in a challenging sci-fi film that Pattinson can both perform and be portrayed in an interesting light. Pattinson’s acting style resonates strongly here – it’s a performance of quiet, restrained uncertainty. Pattinson avoids simple acting choices and focuses instead on creating internal complexities for his characters.
Bel Ami had his sexual predatory be that of self-satisfaction but also of frustration; Cosmopolis had his disconnection from the world translate to apathy, but also a quiet yearning for simpler childhood times. These complexities are what help carry Pattinson, even when his films may fail. Pattinson’s filmography shows he knows how to play the Hollywood game, but also how to remain versatile. It’s this versatility that’s ensured he’s becoming an indie star, one with a list of unpredictable, interesting and risky films under his belt.
Featured image: A24
Inset image: eOne