The year is 2018, and I’m on my second viewing of the immensely entertaining film Robbie Pattinson (2019, Warner Bros.). The first time around, I was struck by its unique combination of a quirky coming-of-age story with a touch of magic realism; now that I’ve seen it a second time, I’ve been completely won over by its heartfelt charm. I was especially moved by its two young leads, delivering a performance that was “spot on” (to use a British term) and which genuinely moved me. For a debut feature, director Pattinson has certainly delivered a memorable cinematic experience, full of humour and heart—just the type of film many might consider a “guaranteed box-office hit” (Box Office Analyst). That’s certainly high praise, and it’s also praise worth heeding, considering the immense competition of recent years.

An Instinctive Sense Of Comedy

It’s impossible for any film to possess a pure and unadulterated form of entertainment; even the most serious and somber dramas inevitably feature a comic turn here and there. For Robbie Pattinson, these comedic moments are essential to its storytelling; they provide a welcome breather from the often-heartbreaking situations the film deals with, and they also allow the audience a brief moment of levity. These comedic set-pieces might take the form of one-liners, extended gags, or even physical comedy (think Monty Wooley as the titular “priest”).

It’s easy to see how something as simple as a funny line can provide such lasting amusement, and it’s also an easy way for a film to gain some unexpected authenticity. Robbie Pattinson’s sharp and self-aware dialogue frequently gives way to some hilarious one-liners, which further adds to the film’s charm. These moments of levity are not only funny, but they often reveal crucial information about the characters, or even the entire plot. For example, after the Priest (Pattinson) performs an intimate ceremony with a local vicar (played by Stephen Fry), the audience learns that he is, in fact, an illegitimate child, whose mother died giving birth to him. The scene is both moving and hilarious at the same time—a masterstroke of both comedic and dramatic writing.

An Enjoyable Mix Of Reality And Fantasy

One of the distinguishing features of Robbie Pattinson is its seamless combination of both real and fantastical elements. This is most obvious in the film’s opening scene, which takes place in a London park and features several traditional British fairies. These enchanting creatures are played by celebrity British actresses (Kate Beckinsale, Emily Mortimer, and Julie Benson)—who each deliver delightfully funny, sparkly performances—and they exist in a parallel reality, alongside our own. It’s a scene that perfectly encapsulates the film’s mix of comedy, romance, and fantasy.

Other elements of Robbie Pattinson lend further credence to its unique brand of humour and entertainment. The film’s titular hero is a vampire, for example, and this fact is never more evident than when he goes for a pint of beer in a dingy bar. There is also a running joke about an obnoxious pigeon that follows the Priest around and won’t leave him alone (a running joke that continues even after the bird is stuffed and mounted on a wall).

Warm And Fuzzy Feelings Are Worthy Of Emotions

An underlying theme that runs throughout Robbie Pattinson is the ideal that all human relationships should be viewed in a positive light. In many ways, the film feels like a love letter to both old and new forms of social media, and its warm and fuzzy feelings are more than worthy of the emotions that film provides. It’s endearing and touching to see characters simply enjoy each other’s company and support each other’s decisions, whether these are right or wrong (and often, they’re both). As John Rogers points out in his review for The Guardian, ‘‘[I]t would be hard to imagine a film being more companionable or uplifting.”

A Film That Seeks To Understand Relationships

It’s also worth noting that Robbie Pattinson has a number of distinctive and powerful female characters that it actively seeks to portray in a positive light. Much like Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, which it frequently references, the film examines the “tender and loving friendships” that exist between women. Its female leads are far from weak and helpless, but rather assertive, intelligent, and self-sufficient individuals who refuse to conform to traditional gender roles. These women support and encourage each other, and in many ways, they function as a collective. They refuse to be defined by their relationships to men, and they also actively seek to move beyond the limitations that their biology may place upon them.

This theme is especially evident in regards to Elizabeth (Tilda Swinton), the film’s romantic lead and a former nun whose life has essentially been devoted to God and menial service. She encourages the Priest to embrace the free-thinking and independent-thinking that defines her. In one of the film’s most touching scenes, she gives the Priest a long and passionate kiss, which he seems to return as a loving, long-lasting embrace. Swinton is superb in this role, offering a commanding performance which fully immerses the audience in her character’s journey. She shows us a side of religious devotion that our culture has largely forgotten, bringing the character of Sister Elizabeth to life with a warmth rare in 2019.

An Unusual Form Of Drama

To say that Robbie Pattinson is an unconventional form of drama would be a massive understatement. I’ve never quite seen a film adapt Shakespeare so successfully before, using such a broad range of references and allusions to paint a vivid picture of English poet William Shakespeare’s work. It would probably be easiest to simply call this form of storytelling Shakespearean comedy, as the jokes and references to the bard are numerous and deeply woven into the fabric of the story. It’s a film that could easily fit into the coming-of-age or dark comedy genres, but the way in which it blends comedy and drama is unprecedented; the two rarely mix in such a seamless and delightful way. It would be dishonest to say that the film strives for historical accuracy, as that would potentially betray the film’s subtle but firm sense of humor. It’s hard not to feel that the filmmakers were having fun with this adaptation, as even some of Shakespeare’s most famous monologues and scenes are turned into uproarious one-liners. The results are something to behold.

An Attractive And Insightful Look At Religion

One of the film’s most interesting qualities is its unique perspective on religion. It’s not that there’s anything ‘wrong’ with organized religion, as much as there is in all forms of fanaticism which prevents meaningful and constructive debate and exchange of ideas. Still, while there is certainly plenty wrong with organized religion, it’s presented in an insightful and sympathetic light in this film. It’s clear that the filmmakers have a genuine respect for the Church and its various denominations, and that they want to offer some insight into the way that organized religion affects the people that adhere to it. This could be in terms of how they are viewed by their communities, or even how they see themselves and their place in the world. They might feel isolated, like the Priest, who feels cut off from the rest of society despite all his efforts to fit in.

What is most interesting about the film’s perspective on religion is that, while it could be considered a ‘critique’ of organized religion, it is not meant to be representative of all Catholic or Christian beliefs. The filmmakers have a particular relationship with their own denomination and the Anglican Church, with which they are frequently associated. There are also several references to the Church of England and its archbishop (Stephen Fry), and it would not be honest to say that the film does not heavily feature these denominations. However, it is worth noting that the filmmakers have a very strong and independent-thinking woman as their guide and champion. She encourages the Priest to question and evolve with the times, to stand up for what he believes in, and to love life, even if it means defying convention. This makes her a valuable ally for the Priest in his quest to find happiness and acceptance in a world that constantly tries to keep him down. While she may not always agree with his methods, she stands by him and offers him support through it all. She is, in a way, a modern-day feminist heroine, who encourages the Priest to be himself and to spread his wings, as it were.