Robert Pattinson desire to work with renowned directors is paying dividends, again. His latest movie “High Life,” directed by noted auteur Claire Denis, is getting rave reviews after a screening at the Toronto Film Festival.
But there is a downside to appearing in small, indie films. They rarely get wide distribution in theaters and are difficult for average moviegoers to see.
Pattinson scored similar critical acclaim–and Oscar buzz–for his movie “Good Time,” directed by Josh and Benny Safdie.
Although “High Life,” has been lightly reviewed so far by only 16 critics, it’s pulling down a 94 rating on rottentomatoes, which tracks reviews. On Metacritic, a similar site, it’s scored an 82.
In contrast, the films that put him on the map, the “Twilight” series, never scored more than a 45 rating, yet the series made Pattinson an international star. Afterward, he said he planned to avoid commercial, blockbuster movies and focus on working with top directors.
His plan has paid off. With “Good Time” and now “High Life,” his acting has reached a new level. He’s become the king of nuanced character studies.
Independent entertainment company A24 has bought the film’s North American distribution rights and plans a “traditional theater release,” according to deadline.
Out of its extensive roster of films, going back to 2013, only one has grossed more than $60 million, a drop in the bucket compared to major studio blockbusters. What that suggests is the films only get very limited distribution, and usually it’s through pay-per-view television.
A24 handled distribution of 2017’s “Good Time,” but its run was limited to 721 theaters. As a result, it grossed just over $2 million. Yet, it was one of the best reviewed entries at the 2017 Cannes International Film Festival.
Before that, A24 distributed Pattinson’s 2014 dystopian drama “The Rover. ” It did slightly better, grossing $3.2 million from a limited run in about 600 theaters, according to boxofficemojo.
A24 will also distribute Pattinson’s upcoming film “The Lighthouse,” a dark fantasy horror film, shot in black and white and directed by Robert Eggers. It also stars Willem Dafoe.
In contrast, a blockbuster like this year’s “Black Panther,” distributed by Buena Vista, ran in more than 4,000 theaters. It grossed $1.3 billion worldwide.
These days, Pattinson is one cut above an arthouse actor, and the marquee value of his name is a far cry from his “Twilight” days. But it seems he wouldn’t want it any other way. In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Pattinson said he chased Denis and begged to be in the film. (See Below)
Oddly, at first, Denis said she was afraid to cast him. Pattinson said he spent four years trying to get a meeting. “I get very fixated on people I want to work with,” he said.
The film marks the French filmmaker’s English-language debut. It’s based on a script by Denis, Jean-Pol Fargeau and Geoff Cox. Pattinson stars with Juliette Binoche, Mia Goth and André Benjamin.
The plot revolves around a group of criminals who volunteer for a space mission to get out of their prison sentences. Ostensibly, they are looking for alternative energy sources, but the trip has a far darker socio-psychological purpose. Pattison’s character, Monte, has a daughter on the trip and they eventually become the last passengers.
“High Life” can be brutal and breathtakingly perverse as only a Denis film can be. But perhaps even more disturbingly, that brutality is undergirded by real warmth and tenderness,” writes Justin Chang for The Los Angeles Times.
“The director’s ardent fans will likely find much to admire here – especially the fact that the 72-year-old Denis remains a fearless filmmaker who, in her own way, has gone this time where no man (or woman) has gone before,” writes Jordan Mintzer for The Hollywood Reporter.
“The movie seems to be a study of the artificial limits we put on our desires—and the ways those desires naturally betray us. This being Denis, she of course goes above and beyond merely exposing those limits; she must also, of course, expose the audience’s limits in the process,” writes K. Austin Collins in Vanity Fair.
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