A biopic about the actor James Dean, whose stardom of the ultimate teenage rebel as well as the premature death made him a legend. His roles are depicted having much in common with his ...
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A biopic about the actor James Dean, whose stardom of the ultimate teenage rebel as well as the premature death made him a legend. His roles are depicted having much in common with his personal life, most notably the difficult relationship with his father.Written by
This film biography of 1950's Hollywood legend James Dean highlights his public life and the estranged relationship that he had with his father. Other aspects of his private life are merely hinted at, probably because to cover them honestly and forthrightly might have alienated some TV viewers. And so, the cinematic result here is shallow and superficial.
The film stars James Franco, as Dean. Most viewers adore Franco's performance. Certainly, he has Dean's mannerisms down pat. Franco does a good imitation of Dean. But Franco's acting is a little too affecting, a little too shallow, to be persuasive, in my opinion. In addition, Franco seems too young and innocent, compared to the real James Dean, a person who looked older than his years, and more sophisticated.
Actually, it is the secondary performances that lift the film's overall acting quality. Edward Herrmann, Mark Rydell, and especially Michael Moriarty are terrific in their roles. Other secondary performances are also quite good.
Despite a superficial, and sanitized, script, and despite Franco's mannered performance, the film is mildly entertaining, thanks to great production design, realistic costumes, excellent film editing, and the acting in secondary roles. The photographic stills of Hollywood and Manhattan, when combined with the jazzy background music, add authenticity to the story's settings, and therefore depth and texture to the film.
For viewers who know little or nothing about the real James Dean, this superficial flick is worth watching, with the proviso that the film touches only on the most obvious aspects of Dean's life. A lot is left out. A longer, more in-depth, script would have perhaps yielded a more realistic, and therefore satisfying, film.
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