With Tenet, Robert Pattinson Shifts From Indies Back to Massive Movies
TENET is one of the most anticipated movies of the year; we cannot wait for Christopher Nolan’s latest mind-bender to play on our screens in early September. Some of our excitement comes from the involvement of Robert Pattinson, who plays a character referred to, in pre-release materials, as "Neil."
We don’t know who Neil is, exactly, but he is clearly working alongside John David Washington's character in a plot which involves the manipulation of time. Considering that Pattinson has become one of the most fearless and surprising actors out there, that's enough. Just knowing that Pattinson will appear in TENET has us jazzed for a number of reasons. Here’s why we are so pumped to see Pattinson's work in Christopher Nolan's movie.
His Indie Adventures
[Image Credit: A24]
Since his commercial breakthrough in the four TWILIGHT films, Pattinson has largely attached himself to smaller, more esoteric movies. He made two movies with Canadian auteur David Cronenberg, co-starred with Charlie Hunnam in the period adventure film THE LOST CITY OF Z for director James Gray, did THE ROVER with co-star Guy Pearce, and made GOOD TIME (above) with UNCUT GEMS filmmakers the Safdie Brothers. Right there, that's an impressive resume. Furthermore, in the past couple of years, Pattinson appeared in a slew of fascinating features, including the weird western DAMSEL, bleak sci-fi movie HIGH LIFE, and strange psychological thriller THE LIGHTHOUSE, which was one of the very best movies of last year.
It’s fascinating how dramatic the shift was. When Pattinson was making the TWILIGHT movies he appeared in other films, but they were usually pretty big movies, too. After his vampiric obligations were over, however, he went full art house. It’s been a blast to watch him hone his craft and experiment in all of these wonderful independent films. If he was trying to prove to the world, in those years between TWILIGHT and now, that he was an artist who just happened to play a sparkly nightcrawler in a series of blockbusting films, well, mission accomplished. Pattinson the artist is an absolute joy.
His Return to the Majors
It speaks to TENET‘s quality that Pattinson chose the movie to be his reemergence into large scale filmmaking. It’s his coming (back) out party. The actor hasn’t been in those types of movies since the last TWILIGHT entry eight years ago. Obviously TENET is not like other studio extravaganzas, however. It is helmed by a true visionary, writer-director Christopher Nolan, and features an incredible cast that includes Washington, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Debicki, Melanie Laurent, and Nolan regulars Michael Caine, Kenneth Branagh, and Himesh Patel. The opportunity to work alongside that roster of talent must have been as appealing as any other part of the equation. It's also worth noting that TENET will likely be a one-off akin to Nolan movies such as INCEPTION and THE PRESTIGE. Making big studio movies often means committing to more than one film, but that's likely not the case here.
In that sense, TENET is perhaps like the big-budget version of the indie movies that have been bread and butter for Pattinson since he took out the TWILIGHT fangs. That said, the actor will be seen in the lead role in THE BATMAN, from director Matt Reeves. (It's even possible that a BATMAN teaser will be attached to TENET.) It’s telling that TENET isn’t just a lark, that as a performer he now feels comfortable flitting back between the major commercial movies and smaller independent features. TENET must have been a good experience if it lead to Pattison signing on to another huge franchise. While the costumes on a movie like THE BATMAN are probably less comfortable than in a project like HIGH LIFE, we'd guess that the catering is better.
All told, TENET is an exciting proposition. Christopher Nolan is one of the most imaginative filmmakers working today, with a string of artistic and commercial triumphs that include the DARK KNIGHT trilogy, INTERSTELLAR, and, most recently, the Oscar-nominated DUNKIRK. With TENET he seems to be going back to the high concept world of INCEPTION, but instead of following dream thieves, the story has something to do with the twisting and manipulation of time. Washington plays some kind of operative, who along with Pattinson's character teams up to prevent Armageddon.
As a filmmaker, Nolan has always been obsessed with time – how it works, how we experience it, and how it can be corrupted. From his very first film, FOLLOWING, he has played with these notions, and he’s come back to them again and again, even in something as relatively straightforward as DUNKIRK, which unfolds over three distinct measurements of time. (DUNKIRK's storylines take place over three hours, three days, and three weeks.)
TENET certainly features some big set pieces, but Nolan says that digital effects were used only sparingly. The aggressively old school filmmaker, who once again took advance of modern technology and new, more portable IMAX camera systems, shot much of the movie with practical effects and innovative stunt work. That, as much as the thematic ideas about time, helps forge the director's patented mixture of the identifiable and the otherworldly. The fact that Pattinson will be a part of this insane world (sporting streaky blonde hair, no less) has us endlessly intrigued. We've waited a long time for this movie, but Pattinson's return to massive moviemaking is one of many elements that will reward our patience. Bring on TENET! Bring on R-Patz!
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All images courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures, unless otherwise indicated.