Rising from the depths of personal tragedy, Robert Pattinson’s new film, Chaos, is a visceral throwback to the early 2000s, when Hollywood saw the potential in young actors who didn’t quite fit the status quo. With a genre-blending, ensemble cast that includes Tiffany Haddish, Kathy Bates, and Steve Buscemi, it’s an ambitious attempt to be both the story of a generation and its dark underbelly.
Pattinson, the actor-director-writer who plays the title character, is only twenty-six years old, but already has a lengthy acting resume that includes leading roles in the Twilight franchise, as well as the highly anticipated upcoming films Good Morning, Midnight and The Lighthouse.
Hollywood saw potential in Pattinson, and now he’s breaking out of the shadow of his famous family to make his own mark on the world.
Chaos Is Fuelled By An Utterly Devastating Childhood Tragedy
Chaos begins with the death of Pattinson’s mentally ill mother when he was just eight years old. Having already lost the woman he loved, Pattinson’s father, David, then decides to end his own life. In the ensuing years, Pattinson is haunted by the image of his dead mother as he struggles to understand the causes of their unhappiness.
Director Robert Pattinson presents a desolate and largely unforgiving future in which young people are pitted against one another in a race for resources. It’s the dark underbelly of a utopian future, where the haves and the have-nots live in perpetual fear and paranoia. When he’s not stalking the halls of his psychadelic school, Victor Crowley High, Pattinson is seen poring over history books in search of answers to the mystery of his mother’s death.
History books can’t lie, however, and Crowley High is anything but an ordinary school. It’s actually a breeding ground for superspies whose mission it is to take down the establishment and the system that supports it. For the students, it’s not so much about getting an education as it is about preparing for a life of superhuman espionage. After all, the world is a dangerous place and humans need all the help they can get.
Supernatural Mentors, An A-List Cameo, And A Whole Lot Of Ambitious Ideas
Chaos is an ambitious attempt to fuse genres and draw from real-life experiences to craft a character-driven thriller that mixes science fiction, fantasy, and horror. It’s a difficult task, but one that the director seems up to.
As the son of David Lynch, who is known for his challenging and unconventional works, it’s not hard to see the influence of his famed mentor in the young Pattinson. There are numerous parallels between the two – from their similar cinematic visions to their unique approaches to storytelling. It would also not be a stretch to argue that much of the surrealistic horror that makes Lynch’s films so unique and memorable is owed to his experience of living in a deeply dysfunctional family.
Pattinson has been compared to a young Orson Welles, and it’s easy to see the influence of the famed storyteller in his work. Indeed, Welles’ Citizen Kane is often cited as one of the greatest American films of all time, due in no small part to its thematic complexity and its blend of genres.
Kane is arguably the greatest anti-establishment film of all time, and it tells the story of a young man, Kane, who rises up against the establishment to become a fearsome protagonist who changes the course of cinema history.
Welles was a prodigious student who idolised his famous father, and became a famous young man himself, with many of his own works boasting magnificent casts and groundbreaking technical prowess. He made his name in the theatre, before moving to Hollywood, where he became one of the most important figures in the film industry. He famously designed the iconic Citizen Kane badge, with Welles’ face on it.
With Welles as one of his biggest inspirations, it’s no surprise that Pattinson has embraced the outsider role so fully in Chaos. The film opens with young Victor Crowley High students watching clips of Welles’ famous broadcasts, enraptured by the actor’s charismatic oratory.
When David Lynch was in high school, he too was a big fan of Welles’ and even went on to become a radio announcer himself. He’s said to have inspired the character of Ray Bradbury, the bookish, over-the-top host of Los Angeles’ fictional station, The Bradbury Report, who spews surrealistic horror and science fiction, sometimes in the same story.
Chaos is clearly inspired by these stories, which blend the fantastic with the very real, depicting a bleak and cynical vision of our own future. It’s a fittingly subversive depiction of a time when the world was at the forefront of technological and social change, where traditional mores and structures were under pressure.
Breaking The Status Quo
When David Lynch was a teen, he too became disillusioned with society. His experiences as the son of well-known Hollywood figures contributed to his rebellious attitude, and a burning desire to flee the material world. Lynch was expelled from school for fighting, and then dropped out of college after just one year.
In the 1960s, Hollywood was in the midst of a transition. Young actors like Jack Nicholson, Harry Dean Stanton, and Warren Beatty were challenging the system as it was, and forcing Hollywood to reinvent itself. Lynch and Pattinson are both breaking the status quo, with the latter also reinventing the horror genre with 2017’s Get Out. If you haven’t seen it yet, I wouldn’t waste any time in adding it to your to-watch-list.
Despite its darkness, Chaos is also an opportunity for fans of the much-loved Twilight franchise to see Pattinson in the roles he was born to play. The actor’s portrayal of Edward Cullen is both sympathetic and nuanced, and offers a tantalising glimpse into the tortured psyche of a brilliant but emotionally damaged man.
If you love the Twilight series, or indeed, any of Pattinson’s previous work, you’re in for a treat. In spite of its dark premise, there are plenty of moments of levity in the film, which serves to balance out its heavy subject matter. The casting of Tiffany Haddish, in particular, is a masterstroke, as she not only provides some much-needed comic relief, but provides a vital link to the audience, as the film’s central character, Victor Crowley High’s principal, Miss Spencer. When Haddish’s character rolls up on a joint, the audience isn’t startled as much as we are when we realise that she’s played by Rosalind Rowe.
Hollywood was previously warned about the dangers of the joint drug dealer/principal character, but Ms. Spencer’s drug use is presented in a comedic light – as part of an overall strategy to help Victor Crowley High’s students, and the film itself, navigate the chaotic world outside the classroom.
An Insight Into The Psychology Of A Sociopath
Chaos is a complicated character study of a man named Victor Crowley High. In the film, Pattinson plays a high-school principal who has problems with impulse control and an inability to feel empathy. The question is: does David Lynch’s son feel any sense of responsibility for the actions of his character, or is he simply playing up to type?
David Lynch’s son is, in many ways, an unlikely heir to his profession. He’s often cited as the most academically talented member of the Lynch family, and has been compared to his renowned uncle for his cinematic prodigy. As a teenager, he established himself as a force to be reckoned with in Hollywood, and now that he’s an adult, he’s carving out his own niche in cinema history. In spite of his family legacy and early success, Lynch still views Hollywood with a degree of scepticism, observing “it’s a tough town for a young man”.
The principal of Victor Crowley High embodies the duality that is the heart of Lynch’s cinematic oeuvre. While he may possess the brimming confidence of a young man who’s more than capable of taking on the world, he’s also shown to be an emotionally stunted individual who lacks the capacity for love or compassion. It’s an interesting dichotomy, and one which the audience is invited to question: is this another example of Hollywood’s self-destruction, or is it yet another character flaw foisted upon the establishment by a young man who wants to change the world?