Chronicle made Dane DeHaan an actor to watch. Then The Amazing Spider-Man 2 ambled along and took him down a peg (or five). Thankfully, DeHaan has an actual, proper movie from an actual, proper filmmaker waiting in the wings, giving him a chance to play one of popular culture’s most enigmatic figures alongside a crop of interesting actors. We’re not entirely sold on the Life trailer, but it’s a start.

The film casts DeHaan as James Dean, a name that should be familiar to anyone with even a passing knowledge of American cinema. Robert Pattinson plays the Life Magazine photographer hired to follow him around for a story. It’s a premise very similar to the recently released The End of the Tour, substituting a glowering Hollywood heartthrob in place of an intimidatingly talented writer. Joel Edgerton and Ben Kingsley fill out the supporting cast, with the latter playing Jack Warner, one of the founders of the Warner Bros. studio.

Life represents that latest stage in Pattinson’s “Do everything in my power to not get pigeonholed as freaking vampire” career strategy. So far, it’s definitely paying off. This guy is an interesting actor with a penchant for working with interesting filmmakers. Not everyone comes out of superstardom and decides to play the second lead in an Anton Corbijn project.

But this appears to be DeHaan’s movie and we’ll have to wait and see if his performance works. There are snippets in this trailer that look like they came straight out of Walk Hard, with the young actor seemingly trying way too hard to capture the tics of his subject. But context is key. We’re rooting for this guy. We want him to redeem himself. No one deserves to be remembered for playing a greasy punk rock goblin in a third rate superhero movie.

Life doesn’t have an American release date yet, but we imagine it’ll arrive something before the end of the year.

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