Entertaining, But Not All Truth
Norma Claire | 09/27/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"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!
Cynthia Brideson | Sacramento, CA | 03/23/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I was very pleased with the wonderful acting jobs from all of the stars in this film. James Franco was very authentic and believable. Michael Moriarty as Winton Dean was cast perfectly as the often indifferent and cold father. The film was made for TV so it didn't delve into James Dean's childhood very much, but what it did show gave me a good feel as to what it was like. Usually I don't notice background music in movies, but the jazzy saxophone music in this movie really gave me the feel of what New York in the 1950's was like! I highly recommend this to everyone!"
Robert C. Graham | OGMORE BY SEA, VALE OF GLAMORGAN United Kingdom | 09/04/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is quite a remarkable made for TV film about the intense, fast and tragically short life of the master of method acting; James Dean.
James Franco plays Dean so convincingly that at times it is easy to forget that this is not James Dean himself.
Bio films always take a little licence with actual facts and events and no doubt this is true here.
Overall Franco reveals his own, quite stunning and at times, moving, acting ability and it is easy to see why he is now achieving great things.
As a film `James Dean` is outstanding entertainment and I think even the man himself would be proud.
One thing which needs to be noted is that in real life Winton Dean (James` father) was not the unfeeling, uncaring man portrayed but did indeed care greatly for his son. Winton had to sell everything including his car in order to pay the medical bills when James` mother was dying and felt that young James had a better chance living with his uncle on his farm. In fact in James` letters to his father after he had remarried to Ethal they started with `Dad and Mom`. Winton also sent James money when he could. Not touched on here was the fact that Winton was also drafted during the war and went to see James when he could whilst in service. Winton was disappointed in his son`s early interest in the arts as to him it was not a manly interest, but the evidence is that Winton loved James dearly."
A Star is Born in James Franco!
J. Martin | Woodside, NY | 02/02/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"James Franco gives a remarkable performance in this excellent biopic of James Dean. The film beautifully shows James Deans rise to fame as one of Americas Idols. It also showed many things about his life that I had no idea about. His quirkiness, his rage against his father, his love for a 14 yr old, and many others. During this time James Dean was the hottest thing in Hollywood, and it was a shame he only did 3 movies. This was a very heartfelt, touching film filled with amazing performances. I had never seen a James Dean movie, but because of James Franco's remarkable performance, I plan too."