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In Defense of Robert Pattinson

June 8, 2012

Robert PattinsonWhy does Robert Pattinson need defending? you might ask.

As the Twilight saga draws to a close with the release of the fifth and final movie this fall, Robert Pattinson is poised to make a career move. Since the first film was released in 2008, Pattinson has been reluctantly in the limelight, experiencing a level of fame that few can comprehend. He has been understandably apprehensive about it, to the point where he almost abandoned the profession before being offered the starring role in David Cronenburg’s Cosmopolis.

Twilight fans love him. Everyone else seems to role their eyes a bit. But what is so bad about him, really?

Pattinson’s first movie role of note was Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, in which he played the ill-fated Cedric Diggory. Having not seen any of the HP films, I can’t comment on whether he was any good or not, but I do know that not much was said about him after the film’s release. He followed with two smaller, quirkier films: How to Be and Little Ashes, both released in 2008. How to Be is indescribably weird, and Pattinson plays weird well, especially with that haircut. Little Ashes is more mainstream; it’s a film about young Salvador Dali in 1920s Spain and his relationship with Frederico Lorca, played by this hot Spanish guy. Pattinson as Dali is… well… weird, but the overall film is quite moving.

Then came Twilight, which was the gamechanger. Pattinson has admitted to feeling completely overwhelmed by it all, not having known really what he was signing up for. And with back-to-back filming schedules, the sequels have certainly kept him busy. In the last four years, he’s only filmed two other movies: Remember Me (2010) and Water for Elephants (2011).

Now, I am a fan of the Twilight books, as terribly written as they may be. And I’ve seen all four movies to date. I will say this: these are not great films. They’ve gotten progressively better, but the first movie is just awful. And Pattinson is awful in it. Whether that was a creative choice of his own or just bad direction, his Edward Cullen is boring and mopey and kind of ridiculous to believe as a character. For better or worse, once established that way, Edward has gotten no better in the subsequent films.

But here’s the thing: Robert Pattinson is actually a pretty good actor. Remember Me and Water for Elephants are both fine films, and he does well in them. He has range and depth and proves that he is much more than a pretty-from-the-right-angle face. He is also, apparently, a fantastic singer/songwriter.

Now that the Twilight Saga is finally finished, Pattinson has moved on to other things, and he has two new films being released this year. Cosmopolis is David Cronenburg’s film adaptation of Don DeLillo’s novel, and so far it’s garnering decent praise. Much less is being said about Bel Ami, the period piece based on Guy de Maupassant’s novel. However, both seem to be off-the-beaten-path roles, the kind hungry young actors take on to “prove” themselves (think Leonardo DiCaprio in The Man in the Iron Mask or Ryan Gosling in Lars and the Real Girl). Whether these roles will turn Pattinson from teen heartthrob into serious actor in the eyes of the world remains to be seen.

Cosmopolis (2012)

Bel Ami (2012)

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