In the year 2020, Hollywood has shifted to a new normal. The industry has adapted to social distancing, and as a result, production rates have plummeted. Studios are now vying for your attention using different methods. One of the most refreshing changes is the rise of the independent film. Now, more than ever, people are realizing the importance of supporting their local theater and going to watch films that they deem important, thought-provoking, or entertaining.
One such visionary is 54-year-old director Robert Pattinson. Best known for his role as Edward Cullen in the Twilight Saga, Pattinson has made the transition to feature filmmaking and is now responsible for directing Mummy, a psychological thriller film that examines the nature of maternal love. In the film, which recently premiered at the Venice Film Festival, Pattinson plays a young filmmaker who gets more than he bargains for when he becomes the guardian to a newborn. He then struggles to maintain his sanity while trying to figure out how to parent the child he has been assigned. The film also stars Jessica Chastain, Richard Madden, and Freida Pinto.
A Career in Film
For those unfamiliar, Pattinson’s career in film began in earnest in 2011 when he landed the role of Edward Cullen in the Twilight Saga. The franchise, which was recently celebrated as one of the most successful film series of all time, is now 13 films strong and has amassed over 300 million views on YouTube. To put that into perspective, that’s about 33% of the entire population of the United States watching the series in its entirety. If you’re unfamiliar, the Twilight Saga is famous for its array of sparkly vampires and werewolves. In addition to the Twilight films, Pattinson has also dabbled in television, most notably starring in the 2013 miniseries The Magnificent Seven, which was based on the 1960 film of the same name.
While one might assume that a Hollywood A-lister like Pattinson would have his pick of roles in the entertainment industry, that couldn’t be more wrong. Even before the pandemic, he had to fight to land a role in Mummy. Despite originally being signed on to play the titular role, the part eventually went to British actor and director Tom Hiddleston, who, at the time, was heralded as the next great British actor. Hiddleston later expressed his dismay at being typecast in a role that he described as “very dark.”
In Mummy, as in the rest of Pattinson’s films, he explores the complex relationship between an adult and a child. When a young woman (Chastain) gives birth to a stillborn baby, the responsibility of caring for the child falls to Pattinson. Though he has plenty of experience as a parent, this is the first time he has played the role of a father. While this could easily be seen as a downside, it actually works to his advantage. Pattinson says that playing a father for the first time was both challenging and rewarding.
Pattinson’s other upcoming projects include the romantic comedy Beautiful Ghosts and the James Bond film Morbius, which is scheduled for release in April 2021.
The decision to become a director was a no-brainer for Pattinson. Born in London, he studied acting at New York University’s school of theater and later worked as an assistant director on several films, including the 1997 Disney classic Beauty and the Beast and 2006’s The Beach. His interest in directing stemmed from an early age. In an interview with Deadline, Pattinson recalled, “I would sit next to my dad and watch films with him. To this day, I still consider myself to be a bit of a film buff.”
While he has undoubtedly had success as an actor, it’s important to note that many of his roles have been in supporting roles and cameos, with the exception of Twilight. It’s a different matter entirely when it comes to directing. In an interview with The Guardian, Pattinson expressed, “I love the idea of being in control of everything. Ultimately, though, I’m not in control; I have to work with other people. It’s still a beautiful feeling to be able to pull a trigger and engage with an audience. That’s what I love about being a director. It’s the first time in my life that I’ve been in a position where I can actually engage with an audience.”
Is It Relevant Today?
Even before the pandemic, Mummy was seen as a relevant and entertaining piece of cinema. Despite the tragedy that threads its way through the plot, one thing that the film manages to do successfully is to laugh at itself. Mummy is often hailed as a “comedy thriller” due in large part to its use of black comedy humor. The film’s opening scene, which shows a naked man and a fully-clothed woman having sex on an office desk, is a prime example of this tactic. It’s not the first time that comedy and black comedy have crossed paths in the Twilight Saga. In fact, there’s a running joke in the series regarding the actors’ inability to effectively portray romantic relationships on-screen. While fans might find it hard to watch a romantic scene between Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart without laughing, the actor and director say that this is exactly what they had in mind when they put the film together.
Pattinson has now found a home at Netflix. He spent the majority of 2019 working on the upcoming romantic comedy Beautiful Ghosts, which will be released in 2021. Before that, he had a brief cameo in the Marvel Cinematic Universe film The Eternals.
Though Mummy is seen as a lighthearted affair, it’s still a relevant story in today’s world. The birth of a premature baby is a fairly common event, and while many people can relate to the traumas that the film’s characters experience, it’s still a situation that many people can get themselves into.
Whether or not you’ve ever been in a similar situation as those in Mummy, the themes of parenthood and learning to deal with tragedy are universal. It would be a shame to merely call the film a “comedy” or a “thriller” when there are such rich layers of meaning within its narrative. In today’s world, particularly during these trying times, it is more important than ever to seek out films that speak to you, that give you understanding, and that make you think. With more people working remotely and the entertainment industry shifting to accommodate them, finding something that evokes your experience is the best way to bring yourself joy in these difficult times.