Walking down the street, we frequently come across signs for movies that have recently been released. These ads are an opportunity to learn about the titles, but they often come with strange headlines or cryptic synopses that we have little interest in knowing more about. Today, let’s take a closer look at one of the most intriguing of these recent movie ads, Emilie de Ravin and Robert Pattinson’s Chapter 12. Released on December 21, 2019, this indie dramedy offers an unusual premise: What would happen if an aspiring writer (Emilie) fell for the most successful novelist in Europe (Robert)?
In her attempt to start a new life for herself, Emilie De Ravin (Emilie) leaves Los Angeles behind and heads to Italy. The aspiring writer decides to stay with her uncle, Marcello (Michael Madsen), in his gorgeous hilltop villa. While Emilie feels at home in the city that never sleeps, she misses the vibrant theatre life of Los Angeles. To pass the time, Marcello suggests that she writes a play—something that had been a dream of hers since she was a child. One of the main characters in Emilie’s play is Salvator, a writer who is similar to Robert Pattinson’s character from the movie.
Now, if you’re not familiar, Robert Pattinson wrote and directed this film and Emilie de Ravin co-wrote the screenplay with Sarah Burgess. So this is a veritable love letter to the fans of the Twilight series. (It also takes its name from the fourth novel, Chapter 12, which was published decades after the initial three installments.)
How Does It Measure Up?
Okay, so let’s take a step back and look objectively at this movie. Overall, it’s a slow-moving, fairly predictable story with a predictable ending. The script feels more like a collection of short stories than a tight, unified narrative, and that’s probably because there are so many digressions and side plotlines. Nevertheless, this is a low-budget indie film and that’s probably why it was made in such a way that feels more like a series of vignettes than a traditional plot. In other words, the writing and the direction are very character-centered and that’s no bad thing, per se.
The acting, while mostly good, is pretty routine, with the exception of Michael Madsen and Asia Argento. Madsen, who plays Emilie’s uncle, is perfectly cast as a surly but endearing old Italian man. Argento, who portrays Marcello’s wife, is also in the same vein, delivering a scene-stealing performance that will have you crying with laughter. Finally, and perhaps most notably, we have a young Robert Pattinson, who turns in a tour-de-force performance as Salvator, Marcello’s dissolute and selfish nephew. If you’re a fan of the Twilight series, you’ll no doubt recognize many of his mannerisms and behaviors (he even wears a shirt with a picture of a vampire on it).
What Makes It Worth A Watch?
Well, obviously, we’re talking about Robert Pattinson here, aren’t we? Even if you’ve never read a word of the Twilight series or seen a single one of the films, you’ll know exactly what character this is. The 24-year-old Englishman has been turning in memorable performances for years now and continues to do so in this movie. But let’s be realistic: If you haven’t seen or heard of the Twilight books or films, you’re not going to connect with this character very much. That’s a shame, because he gives an extremely human performance and one that is completely authentic. Furthermore, it’s an acting tour de force. So for those of you who have either read the books or watched the films, welcome to the club!
Also, if you’re a fan of the Twilight series, you’ll recognize many of the locations and some of the sets (including the villa itself, where the bulk of the action takes place). It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that many of the set pieces, like the dinner party or the boat ride, feel like they could’ve come straight from a Stephenie Meyer novel.
Now, if you’re not already a fan of the Twilight series, there’s still hope. The first two books, Twilight and New Moon, are actually very funny, albeit somewhat slow-moving stories that often feel more like extended scenes out of Pride and Prejudice. Plus, the series offers some of the most memorable characters in fiction. When the opportunity was offered to him, it was a no-brainer for Robert Pattinson to play a part in a Twilight movie. He will never be able to resist a chance to play a character that is essentially based on himself. And, to be fair, he does offer an excellent interpretation of this character. But, the truth is, his performance will be what you remember most about this movie. That’s not a knock on the other actors here, because they all offer strong performances as well. It’s just that Robert is the one who will stick out in your head after you’ve seen this film. So, if we’re being completely objective, we have to admit that it’s not a great movie.
Even so, we have to give this movie the benefit of the doubt and say that it’s unique in how it portrays the relationship between two men in such a frank and open way. Furthermore, it will stick with you long after you’ve left the theatre. In other words, there’s something here that is special and perhaps worth at least one watch.