James Dean (2001) Review
(More customer reviews)As a fan of James Dean, I was both anxious and excited to see this film. It is very entertaining to watch, and the performances are superb. James Franco as James Dean is absolutely captivating. He steals every scene, just as Dean always did. He has every mannerism down: his mumbling and awkward persona, the shyness that was often mistaken for rudeness. Franco even comes across as an insomniac (as Dean was). Any Dean fan will appreciate the obvious homework that Franco did to prepare for his role. And the look of 50's New York is very raw and realistic. You can almost feel what it was like to be a struggling actor in that Golden Age.
But I must also warn Dean fans that you may be upset by some of the untruthful dramatization. At the end of the film they (the filmmakers) even admit that many parts of the movie were dramatized and even imaginary! For one, Marty Landau and Christine White were not the only close friends Dean had. They were only a few of the handful of people who knew Dean. But this is a movie... time constraints, you know? The film also relies a little too heavily on Dean's relationship with his father. They make it seem as though Dean spent his entire life's existence trying to make his father proud. They also only touch on Dean's homosexual exploits for a few minutes, and in fact if I hadn't known beforehand about his "experimentation" of said subject, I probably wouldn't have even caught it in the film. But I congratulate them on having the guts to include it at all, as many people deliberately overlook it. They also turn his love affair with Pier Angeli into a "star-crossed lovers" tragedy. The film makes it seem as though Pier was his first and only love, but if you're a Dean fan you know that he loved many women. Dizzy Sheridan and Arlene Sachs, just to name a few... There is also a scene I found disturbing, in which Jimmy slaps Pier across the face and then makes love to her. I have read all about Jimmy Dean but I have never read that he ever hit Pier. But alas, movies must include conflicts...
It may seem as though everything I've written is a film-bashing review, but in truth, I love this movie! If you're an avid Dean fan you will applaude Franco's performance, but may sometimes shake your head in disapproval at the fabrications. If you are a newcomer to the Dean World, I recommend that you read some of his biographies before you watch this film, so that you will be able to pick fact from fiction. This film still deserves 4 stars... Kudos to the talented James Franco for bringing Jimmy alive!
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The man behind the legend and a knowing look at the 1950's Hollywood are revealed in this dynamic bioepic of the meteoric star whose troubled life echoed his gut-grabbing performances in East of Eden, Rebel Without A Cause and Giant.