A weekend of bingeing Robert Pattinson films

by Megan Bianco

It was an RPattz filled weekend for me last week.

Acclaimed English film actor Robert Pattinson has come a long way since his vampire days as the male lead in the Twilight flicks, and his most recent releases are no exception. The first is the highly anticipated sci-fi epic of Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet,” and the second is a gritty drama with Antonio Campos’ adaptation of Donald Ray Pollock’s 2011 novel “The Devil All the Time.” Two ensemble pieces which could not be more different from each other outside of Pattinson’s casting. Let’s take a look at both and see how well they lived up to fans’ expectations.

With both films, Pattinson steps aside from the lead roles for the supporting characters. In “Tenet,” we follow the story’s protagonist, played by John David Washington, while he is trained to manipulate time in order to prevent another world war from breaking out. Pattinson, Aaron Johnson, and Clémence Poésy are a few of the big names aiding Washington to save the day from a supervillain played by Kenneth Branagh. Elizabeth Debicki becomes dangerously close to the damsel-in-distress trope as the female lead but fortunately is redeemed by the third act. So after all the hoopla of the blockbuster possibly not getting its necessary theater experience because of COVID-19, film fans were still blessed with “Tenet’s” release — albeit two months later than scheduled. The feature itself is still essentially what you get out of the majority of Nolan’s movies. The action sequences, casting, the cinematography, the special effects, and (most of) the music score are top-notch; but are ultimately sandwiched in between some stale dialogue and stiff comic relief. “Tenet” isn’t “Memento” (2000) or “The Prestige” (2006) but doesn’t feel as hokey as “The Dark Knight Rises” (2012) or “Interstellar” (2014) either.

“The Devil All the Time” piqued my interest with the incredible amount of talent recruited for the cast. While there isn’t really a sole lead, with so many story and character arcs throughout the mid-20th century southern gothic crime piece, if one had to label a lead it would mostly be Tom Holland’s role. Pattinson, Bill Skarsgard, Jason Clarke, Riley Keough, Mia Wasikowska, Haley Bennett, and Eliza Scanlen play a slew of dysfunctional West Virginia and Ohio locals. If there’s one thing to complain about with this potential-filled film, and it has been noted quite a bit already, it is the largely distracting and unnecessary use of narration. Well done voice-over should always inform the audience of new information or details the characters or footage aren’t supplying. The narration in “The Devil” does neither and just tells us pointlessly what we’ve already known for two hours. This is a seriously stellar group of actors, and I was previously impressed with Campos’ direction on “Christine” (2016), but “The Devil” feels mostly like a missed opportunity.

While the two new movies are flawed, it’s still a good month for Robert Pattinson fans. His two performances, whether as a suave espionage agent in “Tenet” or a sleazy preacher in “The Devil All the Time,” are a reminder of just how much range and versatility the actor has.

Megan Bianco

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