Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Robert Pattinson: Sex God or TeenyBopper Fad?

Promo for the highly anticipated Cosmopolis, adapted from the book by Don DeLillo, directed by David Cronenberg...and starring Johnny Depp if it was being made 15 years ago. Rob, don't let us down.
A question I've asked myself a lot lately is what is going to happen to Robert Pattinson's career? Because I'm sad, and silly. Will he be neatly placed into the category of teen sex-symbol forever etched into every 15 year old girl's first sexual fantasy or will he develop his sexual persona on screen for a broader audience and one day do Vincent Gallo-type roles? 
I don't think it's to inconceivable to believe that second part. In one of his first film roles, he already scored a masturbation scene and a guy-on-guy love scene, albeit in a pretty awful film, Little Ashes (2008) but still, that's a good start.
Let's just put aside the whole Water for Elephants (2010) fiasco for now, because I think we'd all like to pretend it didn't happen, and even so, it was very strangely incestuous considering Reese Witherspoone had played HIS MOTHER a few years earlier in Vanity Fair (2004), all made even more creepy by the fact that Pattinson pointed it out saying something like, 'I've played your son, and then i got to fuck you...' I can't remember verbatim, but it was so awkward.
This leaves his Twilight legacy to be considered. It's highly likely that Pattinson will be remembered solely for this, which is fine. Do any of us believe that Daniel Radcliffe will be remembered for anything other than Harry Potter no matter how many plays requiring full nudity for its entirety he does? Pattinson's position is of course different. He was brought in to step into a nationally recognized sexual identity much like Clark Gable did with Rhett Butler for Gone with the Wind (1939). But in Gable's case, the public had envisioned him in the role way before the film was even in pre-production, so the casting was an obvious decision. With Pattinson, we have to ask ourselves a few more questions (or at least I did) before we can accept him into the sprawling history of sex in cinema, particularly male sex symbol status.
Vampires in film have a long history of being the seducer and corrupter on both ends of the gender spectrum, so Pattinson had some seriously big shoes to fill. And did he? Or did he get stuck in teenybopper limbo where because you're cast in the role, you're automatically adored by millions of screaming young girls who are not even sure why they find you tantalizing. Within the context of the Twilight premise, Pattinson is safe, he has a steady and loyal following while he serves as the embodiment of a character that thrives on the fantasy-wild minds of pre-pubescent girls. But he's showing signs of wanting to be more than just a wet dream or source of highly misguided fan fiction a la Orlando Bloom, but the question is; is he capable of this? 
Below is a still from the first installment of Twilight (2008), and below that is a still from the upcoming Bel Ami (2012). Agreed that he needs more than just the one facial expression on his resume?

His next project, Cosmopolis (2012) (directed by well established manipulator of cinematic perversions David Cronenberg) will prove to either make or break his trajectory. This is where we see if Pattinson's route will be that of transition from teen-icon to sex-icon, in my opinion. Clearly he's trying to experiment with more meaty parts (no pun intended), but it's been mostly miss and miss rather than hit and miss. Now that the Twilight Saga is mercifully on the last half of its last installment, we can truly see how he fairs with someone who is not Kristen Stewart, and if he can keep his momentum going. I don't think anyone is doubting whether he is a serious actor or not, and honestly, i don't think any of us really care. It's whether or not his sexual persona has staying power to transition into that of bona fide icon or will it fizzle like a Paul Walker balloon when the saga ends? 
Lets not forget his new role as ruthless Lothario Georges Duroy in Bel Ami (2012) based on the classic novel by Guy de Maupassant. The most we can hope for is that he plays it sans all of the idiosyncrasies he picked up while playing Edward Cullen for 5 years straight, because I have to say, in the trailer, it looks like he's playing Edward in a Victorian costume. 
So Pattinson, here's my advice to you. Put down the styling mousse, brush up on your interview skills, and read a Rock Hudson biography because all of those teenagers eventually grow up into adults will eventually lose interest....most of them.
Below is the trailer for Bel Ami (2012) 

Also, here's the trailer for the little known and little seen film Little Ashes (2008) where he played, get ready for it...Salvador Dali. It was...bad.

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