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10 Essential Robert Pattinson Roles

Why is it when we watch movie marathons (typically compiled of film series, genre classics or director filmographies) that we pick a string of movies that are utterly similar? Why manufacture an hours long endeavor that is begging to become repetitive? Here’s an idea, why not organize a film marathon around a particular actor? Someone who has traversed multiple genres, films of radically different tones and which lack any semblance of unity in directorial vision. It’s possible to get a little tired of laser-gun-fights by the 9th Star Wars film that day, but it must surely be impossible to get tired of ‘Marlon Brando movies’, for instance, when you start with Tennessee Williams and end with Superman.

You’ll have a more varied experience all-round using this approach, and it’s a great way to absorb the talents of an actor who may have a preconceived public perception. Robert Pattinson, for instance, seemed to many an odd choice for the new Batman film (hopefully the fantastic new trailer has quelled revolt till release day), since many have R-Pat written on their red-lists of terminally unwatchable movie stars for his part in the hugely popular Twilight series. It’s hard to blame them, on IMDb three of Pattinson’s four “known for…” films are Twilight entries. But, as many film fans have taken note, Pattinson is marking himself one of the strongest talents of his generation, unafraid to leap-frog from hilariously diverse roles. Here are 10 Robert Pattinson roles, each as distinct as the respective genres of their films.

Good Time – (Crime-Thriller)

The lightning-bolt precursor to the Safdie Brothers’ later hit Uncut Gems, Good Time is more visceral, visually inventive, and yes, somehow more anxiety-inducing. Pattinson is in his slimiest mode, a sociopathic bank robber who will do anything to evade arrest whilst trying to free his mentally disabled brother from hospital custody. The character is scum, but as ever wilder complications arise, the sheer desperation of this high-wire act forces you not exactly into rooting for his success, but into fearing all the same that he may be caught.

The Lighthouse – (Horror)

His best work, psychological-horror The Lighthouse is an unofficial modern classic, which relies entirely on two performances, Willem Dafoe’s demeaning and unhinged lighthouse keeper, and his underling, Pattinson’s wickie, bubbling with hatred, pressed under the thumb of his employer, slowly losing his mind in the isolation of their remote island. Brilliantly directed, intense and scary, The Lighthouse required more than your typical horror-film from Pattinson, who has to be fidgety, vulnerable, frenzied, vicious, and unknowingly funny to carry the role, whilst delivering antiquated 18th-century seadog gobbledygook with conviction.

Tenet – (Spy-Action)

Tenet‘s draw leans heavily on its Christopher Nolan-style scope and complex story, a time-bending spy-thriller starring a green but always under control John David Washington, but for spoilerific reasons we can’t say here, Robert Pattinson has to be most likeable guy in movie. The uber-cool exposition-dumping undercover agent who always seems to know more than he’s letting on, growing closer to the protagonist as the whole mess of the plot unfolds. His suaveness is a comfortable reprieve from the mind-meltingly disorienting action of the film, where people moving forwards and backwards in time face off.

The King – (Historical-Epic)

A very dour adaptation of the Henriad, The King benefits massively from Pattinson’s delightfully tacky French Dauphin, a willfully childish foil in leadership for Timothée Chalamet’s Henry, in a story all about outgrowing childishness for Kingship. Pattinson, in the company of a cast so serious even Fallstaff doesn’t laugh much, has an absolute blast, and is easily the highlight of the film.

High Life – (Sci-fi)

Claire Denis’ first English-language feature is cryptic and thought-provoking, populated by quiet types, as is par for the course for the director, criminal subjects of scientific experimentation sent towards a black hole, but despite the restraints on dialogue placed on him, Robert exudes bottled emotions in a largely physical performance. He is hypnotic as the film prods at our true natures when pushed to face desolation.

The Lost City of Z – (Adventure)

An exploration epic out of its time, Pattinson is Henry Costin, companion to the geographer, artillery officer, cartographer, archaeologist, and explorer of South America the film follows into the Brazilian Amazon to find the titular lost city. He offers delicate support and quiet charisma, the strange qualities of unknowable drive that mark certain explorers, and seems more appropriate than the lead Henry trails after beyond reason.

Cosmopolis – (Arthouse-Thriller)

Working with director David Cronenberg, Pattinson plays a 1-percenter who rides in the back of a limo, meeting various characters on an Odyssean ride through Manhattan. The revolving door of characters keeps the endless conversation fresh, but a zombified Pattinson does the heavy-lifting as an insufferably rich yuppie, naturally falling apart at the seams with contradictions and justifications for his vapid way of life. Cronenberg’s post-Occupy Wall Street commentary can feel a little bit like a sermon, but it is outside the box, and Pattinson finds the perfect pitch for the soulless capitalist.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – (Young Adult-Fantasy)

Finally, a movie for the kids. Is a description really necessary? It’s the fourth of the series, one of the better ones, split nicely between the whimsy of the earlier films and the drastic stakes of the later films, and Robert does a great job as the ideal overachiever, so charming you can’t even find reasons to dislike him through envy.

Little Ashes – (Biographical-Drama)

Aiming for the most in-your-face, out-there role possible to distinguish from his roles in teen-fantasy films (Twilight released the same year!), Robert took on Salvador Dalí, who was supremely bizarre in his life as in his art, and Pattinson goes all out to match (including a bravely uncomfortable masturbation scene) though this is a much more withdrawn character than the older Dalí we know well. His eccentricities develop in the speculative erotically-charged company of Luis Buñuel and writer Federico García Lorca, and during his time in Paris.

Water for Elephants – (Romance)

This is not a great film, but there is a definite want out there for Robert Pattinson-lead romances that aren’t totally unwatchable, and Water for Elephants is serviceable. Robert is better suited for the film than Witherspoon, being a little more involved in and a little less tortured by the relationship than in Twilight.

This selection should help you to get acquainted with the schizophrenic on-screen personality of Robert Pattinson, who has said that he aims to be unrecognizable from role to role. Funny to think that his next role following The Batman may be another bat/man; the titular vampire Nosferatu in a reunion with Robert Eggers of The Lighthouse. It’s tough to decide which is more exciting.