David Cronenberg’s first collaboration with Robert Pattinson was met with a collective shrug from critics and an even worse reception from audiences. The general consensus was that the source material was more or less unadaptable, which resulted in a movie that felt dry and repetitive.
Though some people enjoyed the psychological complexity, most people found the movie to be too much buildup for not enough payoff. The only thing that seemed to consistently earn praise was Robert Pattinson’s deadpan performance as the wealthy pretty boy who decides to take a lengthy car ride in the city.
Whenever the dialogue stalls, Pattinson comes along and livens things up. Whenever the plot feels like it’s going nowhere, Pattinson gives people a reason to keep watching. He’s just as cold as the rest of the movie, but that’s what makes him so fascinating. The self-loathing billionaire is made delightfully hateable thanks to Pattinson’s chilly performance.
Although he has a tendency to come across as flat-out emotionless, his portrayal of the character is actually far more nuanced than one may initially believe. There’s an obvious difference between his legitimately emotionless performance in Twilight and his performance in Cosmopolis. Cronenberg intended to make a bleak movie, and Pattinson was right for the job.
3. The Lost City of Z
The Lost City of Z was a box office misfire, which is a shame considering the fact that it’s actually an excellent movie. The true story of a British explorer who disappears after trying to find a lost city is just fascinating enough to work despite a few flaws. Though occasionally too formulaic for its own good, there are enough positive aspects to outweigh the feelings of familiarity. The visuals are stunning, the deliberate pacing advances the story in all the right ways, and the top-billed cast members all show some serious acting chops.
In other words, Charlie Hunnam and Robert Pattinson show some serious acting chops. For being the third choice after Brad Pitt and Benedict Cumberbatch, Hunnam makes quite a strong case for himself as the stubbornly determined adventurer who just can’t call it quits. Meanwhile, Pattinson essentially plays the anthesis of the protagonist.
As partner-in-crime Corporal Henry Costin, he presents us with a character who is level-headed and wise. He’s dedicated to helping figure out the mystery, but he’s also realistic about the dangers that stand in the way. Pattinson’s take on the character works perfectly alongside Hunnam, which is probably why it’s so easy to praise.
To be fair, most of the movie is worthy of praise. This is a severely underrated film that could have benefited from a better release date and a stronger ad campaign. Luckily, it’s finally available for streaming, which means anyone who missed it the first time can give it a look.
Specifically, anyone needing a Pattinson fix will find that The Lost City of Z more than does the trick. Although he is (once again) given a supporting role, his role still has a strong impact on the overall movie. It’s a relief that such a fascinating character gets to be played by such a strong actor.
2. Life (2015)
Not to be confused with the surprisingly awesome Alien knock-off from this year, 2015’s Life is actually about the relationship between acclaimed actor James Dean and photographer Dennis Stock. Considering the fact that the script is ultimately a bit of a disappointment, the film instead has to rely on its two leads in order to succeed.
Dane DeHaan takes on the role of Dean while Pattinson plays Stock, and they both do an excellent job. Although they aren’t given the greatest dialogue to work with, they both make do with what’s given to them and deliver downright hypnotic performances. The fact that they’re both able to carry the film is a testament to their talent.
In theory, James Dean should be the center of attention considering the world’s intense fascination with the late actor. Somehow, Pattinson is able to draw attention to himself like a magnet. Dennis Stock isn’t a particularly interesting character due to an unfortunate lack of exposition within the script, but Pattinson gives a nuanced performance that practically forces viewers to remain engaged. His performance isn’t showy or loud by any means.
Rather, it’s effective due to the subtle emotional depth found within each and every line he delivers. The script doesn’t give us enough background into the famous photographer, so Pattinson makes it his mission to fill in the blanks.
Life is an above average movie solely because of the two lead actors. DeHaan gives us a James Dean who’s as unique as he is engaging, but he’d be nothing without his spectacular costar. The chemistry between the two actors is laudable, but Pattinson even manages to command the screen when he’s not interacting with DeHaan. In other words, he’s constantly successful in his attempts to draw the audience away from the film’s unfortunate flaws. The movie is never as fascinating as it should be, but it least has the advantage of featuring Pattinson at his very best.
1. Good Time
Those who have seen Good Time should have seen this coming from a mile away. Along with being Pattinson’s best overall performance, this is also one of the best performances of the year from one of the best films of the year.
To say that this is a career high is an understatement. Pattinson’s work in Good Time eclipses all of his other performances, and it’s not even because his other performances are remotely bad. On the contrary, Pattinson had built up quite the reputation prior to his work in Good Time. This was just the movie that cemented his status as an acting powerhouse who’s anything but a sparkling vampire.
Good Time revolves around Connie Nikas (Pattinson), a small-time criminal who attempts to rob a prominent bank with his developmentally disabled brother. Following an unfortunate run-in with the law, his brother is taken into custody where he’ll stay put unless Connie can come up with tens of thousands of dollars to pay the bail. It’s a story that’s simultaneously touching and balls-to-the-walls bonkers once everything starts piling up. It’s fair to assume that the endlessly entertaining script worked to Pattinson’s advantage, but it would be naive to believe the writing is doing all the heavy lifting.
His commitment to this character is evident from the opening scene. Once he spits out his first line of dialogue with an emotionally charged New York accent, you know you’re in for a (excuse the pun) good time. Connie Nikas is sort of a scumbag. He’s selfish, lazy, and emotionally manipulative.
Despite all of this, Pattinson somehow makes him a likeable person. He still presents the character as a flawed criminal, but he also makes us feel for the character. Once again, it’s not the script that has this effect on the audience – it’s the actor. Good Time is a movie with so many great attributes (including the aforementioned script), but at the end of the day, it’s Pattinson who is able to charm moviegoers and leave them breathless.
Author Bio: Justin is a paraprofessional teaching assistant and full-time film enthusiast with a degree in English. When he’s not writing about films, he’s probably watching them in his spare time.