screen writer

Cal­lous youths are act­ing their age, says Don­ald Clarke

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - OPINION - dclarke@irish­times.com

It’s not easy be­ing a teen heart­throb. Ev­ery day you have to fight your way past hordes of scream­ing hor­mones when go­ing out for hob­nobs and Toi­let Duck. You miss out on so many of the life-en­hanc­ing ex­pe­ri­ences that char­ac­terise com­ing of age: leaky flats in slum districts, parental fury at maxed-out credit cards.

We jest. But mak­ing the tran­si­tion from teen idol to grown-up ac­tor is not easy. For ev­ery Sean Penn there are a dozen Judd Nel­sons and a hun­dred C Thomas How­ells. Some never prop­erly grow up. A few grow up in the wrong way. Most make bad de­ci­sions or en­counter plain bad luck.

This year’s Cannes Film Fes­ti­val, which ends on Sun­day, of­fered some happy news for mem­bers of the Na­tional Union of Heart­throbs. At least three re­cent of­fi­cers of that body are show­ing the right way to move into adult life.

A few short years ago, the no­tion that Chan­ning Ta­tum, Kris­ten Ste­wart and Robert Pat­tin­son would be­come stal­warts of La Croisette would have trig­gered hys­ter­i­cal guffaws. Yet there they are.

Fol­low­ing on from fine per­for­mances in Magic Mike and Side Ef­fects, Mr Ta­tum, now an un­be­liev­able 34, excels him­self as an Olympic wrestler in Ben­nett Miller’s stun­ning Foxcatcher. It’s taken a while for Ta­tum, who first broke through in the dance movie Step Up, to break away and gain a de­gree of re­spectabil­ity. But that doesn’t stop teenage idiots from post­ing abu­sive mes­sages be­neath any men­tion on the in­ter­net.

Pat­tin­son and Ste­wart, 28 and 24 re­spec­tively, at­tract sim­i­lar lev­els of vit­riol from the le­gions of mal­con­tents still per­son­ally of­fended by the Twi­light films. Hat­ing those fine ac­tors is, it seems, a way of as­sert­ing your own frag­ile ma­tu­rity. Yet both are now mak­ing sec­ond ap­pear­ances in the of­fi­cial com­pe­ti­tion at Cannes.

Two years ago, R-Patz turned up in David Cro­nen­berg’s Cos­mopo­lis and K-Stew weaved her way through Wal­ter Salles’s On the Road. Now he is back in Cro­nen­berg’s Maps to the Stars and she is along­side Juli­ette Binoche in Olivier As­sayas’s Sils Maria. There’s more. David Mi­chod’s The Rover, play­ing out of com­pe­ti­tion, also fea­tures a leading turn from Pat­tin­son.

This grow­ing up re­ally is a tricky busi­ness. Whereas Ste­wart had a hit with the weird Snow White and the Hunts­man, Pat­tin­son re­ally hasn’t made much money for the stu­dios since that vam­pire fran­chise. Re­mem­ber Bel Ami? Wa­ter or Ele­phants? No. Well, you get my point.

But get­ting in with good, pow­er­ful di­rec­tors is a more re­li­able way of se­cur­ing longevity. Leonardo Di Caprio re­alised this when he first bed­ded down with Martin Scors­ese. Pat­tin­son was wise, like Viggo Mortensen be­fore him, to form a part­ner­ship with Cro­nen­berg. Ste­wart’s re­la­tion­ship with Salles and As­sayas makes sense.

They’re not re­ally vam­pires, but may be with us for many eter­ni­ties to come.

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