In de­fense of Robert Pat­tin­son

The “Twi­light” alum is now al­most as in­ter­est­ing an ac­tor as Kris­ten Ste­wart.

Metro USA (New York) - - Film - MATT PRIGGE @mattprigge [email protected]

A mil­lion think pieces have con­firmed it: Kris­ten Ste­wart is now an ac­claimed ac­tress. But what of her “Twi­light” co-star? What of Robert Pat­tin­son, the pale, slightly weird­look­ing dream­boat who spent the saga sniff­ing like a coke ad­dict and mum­bling through come-ons like, “I’ve never wanted a hu­man’s blood so much in my life”?

The two have more than an by­gone fran­chise in com­mon: They’ve more or less ditched Hol­ly­wood. As their money-gob­bling emo se­ries was wind­ing down, both starred in big-time ve­hi­cles. Ste­wart did “Snow White and the Hunts­man”; Pat­tin­son popped up in “Wa­ter for Ele­phants” and the dire, of­fen­sive 9/11 drama “Remember Me.” They could have done more. But they didn’t. In­stead, both de­cided to go un­der­ground, loan­ing their names, and what has come to be seen as their un­der­val­ued tal­ents, to truly in­ter­est­ing films made by icon­o­clas­tic film­mak­ers.

Pat­tin­son was even first. A cou­ple years be­fore Ste­wart hooked up with her “Clouds of Sils Maria” di­rec­tor Olivier As­sayas, he ran off with David Cro­nen­berg. The first sign that he was far more than “Twi­light” was 2012’s “Cos­mopo­lis,” the Cana­dian leg­end’s bizarro take on a slen­der Don DeLillo novel. His char­ac­ter is a wealth mon­ster who Pat­tin­son plays as a kind of ro­bot, un­sure of how nor­mal peo­ple be­have. His ac­tions prove in­creas­ingly un­pre­dictable, ir­ra­tional, ul­ti­mately vi­o­lent. He’s ab­so­lutely thrilling, and it seemed Cro­nen­berg fi­nally fig­ured out what to do with the young megas­tar. Since then, Pat­tin­son hasn’t had a role as plumb as “Cos­mopo­lis.” He hasn’t given him­self the chance. While Ste­wart has re­ceived art house ve­hi­cles like “Cafe So­ci­ety” and “Per­sonal Shop­per,” Pat­tin­son has been happy to make his name as a go-to sup­port­ing ac­tor. In “The Rover,” a grim Aus­tralian dystopia from “An­i­mal King­dom’s” David Mi­chod, he’s the loose­can­non freak who teams up with our fa­tal­is­tic anti-hero, played by Guy Pearce. He only swings by oc­ca­sion­ally in Werner Her­zog’s “Queen of the Desert,” play­ing a smirk­ing, good-hu­mored T.E. Lawrence (aka Lawrence of Ara­bia).

Some­times Pat­tin­son’s barely on screen at all. He only has a cou­ple scenes in “The Child­hood of a Leader,” Brady Corbet’s dis­turb­ing look at a Mus­solini-like tyrant as a kid, and he mostly spends them play­ing snooker. You get the sense — here and in his other Cro­nen­berg film, “Maps to the Stars” — that he’s sim­ply lend­ing his name to fas­ci­nat­ing film­mak­ers, char­i­ta­bly en­sur­ing his pres­ence will get great but dif­fi­cult work fi­nanced.

Pat­tin­son isn’t the lead in James Gray’s new “The Lost City of Z” ei­ther; that would be Char­lie Hun­nam, who plays an English ex­plorer at the turn of the last century traips­ing about un­char­tered Bo­li­vian jun­gle. Pat­tin­son barely even looks like him­self. His clean face is lost un­der an epic beard, his eyes ob­scured by wire glasses.

He doesn’t try to steal the movie, but he does dis­ap­pear into the role. We’re never dis­tracted by him, and we can fo­cus on an icon­o­clas­tic di­rec­tor’s sin­gu­lar vi­sion. In­stead, Pat­tin­son is a wel­come pres­ence.

At this point, it’s a plea­sure to see Pat­tin­son ap­pear­ing in a movie. Give this guy an­other “Cos­mopo­lis” and chances are he’ll wow us — which is not some­thing you might have said af­ter chuck­ling through “Break­ing Dawn — Part 2.”

AI­DAN MON­AGHAN, AMA­ZON STU­DIOS, BLEECKER STREET

Robert Pat­tin­son is barely rec­og­niz­able un­der a scruffy beard in the new “The Lost City of Z,” now in the­aters.

RPatz has come a long way since “Twi­light.”LIONSGATE

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