Director Anton Corbijn – who fuelled us with new insight into Joy Division with 2004’s Control – is back with an in to another unlikely, kinetic relationship: that between Life magazine photographer Dennis Stock and rebellious young actor James Dean. In Corbijn’s Life, Dean (Dane DeHaan) is a workhorse on the brink of fame. Stock (Robert Pattinson) is looking to capture his star on camera before he hits the big time in a magazine exposé. The reality, however, is much darker, as Stock ends up lensing Dean in his last moments.
Although it’s Dean who’s naturally the big draw, the real story, according to Corbijn, lies with Stock. “It is really the story of Dennis Stock,” he says. “We see it mostly through his eyes...and a lot of emphasis is placed on his side of the story and how he experiences this friendship. Jimmy and Dennis learn from each other; Dennis gets to look a little bit differently at his relationship to his son, and for James Dean it was quite interesting to have a friend with his own opinion, not a yes man. I don’t think Stock was that kind of guy.”
Writer Luke Davies, who penned one of Heath Ledger’s last projects, Candy, says of the film, “In a sense the movie is at some deeper level about how mortality should affect the way that we choose to live here and now. So it’s a celebration of life and an elegy for James Dean’s death.”