I’m going to assume that when you’re reading this review, you either love Robert Pattinson or are at least aware of his existence. Few actors embody the dual nature of an enigma and a heart-throb quite like Pattinson. The enigmatic actor is known for portraying introspective characters who often find themselves at the center of attention. However, despite being typecast, Pattinson continues to impress with his versatile acting range. He is one of the most popular actors worldwide and has even been referred to as “the next James Bond.”

Pattinson’s career launched in 2010 with the critically acclaimed indie film, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. Based on a four-novel series by Stephanie Meyer, the film is widely considered to be one of the best of the franchise. A year later, he appeared in the first installment of the The Dark Knight Rises trilogy, Battle of the Free World, which was also critically acclaimed and became one of the highest-grossing films in movie history.

In 2016, Pattinson appeared in two highly anticipated films: the dystopian thriller, Suicide Squad, and the science fiction epic, Alien: Covenant. As might be expected, both films underperformed at the box office, perhaps because of their excessively dark and gritty nature. Nevertheless, both films were critically acclaimed and received a number of award nominations. In between these high-profile projects, Pattinson had a relatively small role in the 2015 Oscar winner, Spotlight, as a gay lawyer.

A Complex Personality

Pattinson’s enigmatic nature is on full display in his 2019 movie, Little Ashes. Directed by Rupert Grange and based on the graphic novel of the same name by Charlie Higson, the film focuses on the character of Robert “Mouse” Gibson, a high school senior who is determined to bring down the rich kids’ school, Millfield. In order to accomplish this, Mouse enlists the help of his friends, Finn (played by Jack Lowden) and Jude (played by Twilight alumna Kelly Rutherford).

Mouse is an interesting character and the film does an excellent job of capturing his adolescent sensibilities and complex personality. From the very beginning of the movie, we are treated to a montage of memorable one-liners, witty banter, and even a few scenes of slapstick comedy. It’s clear that the writers had an excellent understanding of who Mouse is and what makes him tick. The script is witty and sharp, but also handles some difficult issues with maturity and sophistication.

A Solid All-Around Performance

In terms of performance, I would give the award for best actor to Pattinson. In Little Ashes, he portrays the complex titular role with sensitivity and nuance. A source of great pride to his Twilight fans, in the post-Twilight world, Pattinson continues to prove his versatility by embodying a character with so much depth and complexity.

Rutgers graduate and fellow Twilight alumna, Kristen Stewart, provides support for and engages with Pattinson, making for an appealing on-screen couple. Stewart’s part is relatively small, but she gives a very strong performance, which is something to celebrate. In fact, I would argue that Stewart is the best performance in a very good movie. She is able to completely transform her role, going from a timid, scared teen to a confident and assertive young woman.

The supporting cast is rounded out by a fantastic ensemble, including Donald Sutherland, Tom Brooke, Jennifer Jules, and Charlie Higson. Sutherland provides a wizened, avuncular performance as the school’s strict headmaster, Thorne. The veteran actor imbues the character with an air of authority and menace. In one of the film’s more surreal scenes, he lectures Mouse on the evils of smoking in front of an actual tiger.

Tom Brooke embodies the role of Principal Grosch, the overweight, jolly coach who is determined to save Millfield from closing. A character loosely based on real-life English teacher Anthony Burgess, the actor brings a wonderful blend of wiry charm and menacing intensity to the table. One of the more interesting supporting characters is a composite of several real-life individuals, including a character based on British tabloid journalist, Jimmy Prichard. His arrogance and snark are wonderful to behold and made me laugh out loud on more than one occasion.

The movie’s visual style is an important aspect of its appeal. Shot using a mixture of Steadicam and handheld cameras, the scenes in Little Ashes are a joy to watch. Director, Rupert Grange, brings a flair for the unusual camera angle and use of light, creating a cinematic style that is immediately recognizable. Grange is the son of Ridley Scott and the former head of the Royal Shakespeare Company, Peter, and he brings a unique vision to the screen, infusing the movie with a sense of heightened realism and an awareness of the camera’s ability to capture the fleeting moments of normal daylife.

The Bottom Line

As you might expect from a movie titled Little Ashes, the bulk of the action centers around Millfield High School. Despite its small size, the school is teeming with gossip, rivalry, and mean girls. The rich kids are snobby and elitist, treating the normal students with disdain and disrespect. The headmaster, Thorne, is a terrifying figure who terrorizes the students and staff, seeking revenge on those who’ve wronged him.

Robert Pattinson is arguably the best thing about Little Ashes and it would be a major disappointment to fans of the Twilight Saga if he delivered a below-par performance. Although the film centers around a relatively small cast of characters, the depth of characterization and the complexity of the plot make Little Ashes worth seeing.