If you’ve ever watched one of the many films by the talented director David Fincher, then you know exactly what to expect from his latest offering The Rise of Pattinson. The story centres around superstar Robert Pattinson, who stars as the eponymous antihero of the film. The character is arrested and charged with attempted murder after a wild night of partying in New York City. The film covers Pattinson’s journey from being falsely accused and imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit, to finally getting his life back on track.
Fincher, who directed Pattinson in Zodiac and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, has been a long-time supporter of the law school and legal career of Pattinson’s character, Eric Addison. Together, they co-founded the New York City Defender Services, an organisation that provides free legal advice and representation to people accused of crimes. Their mission is to ensure that no one is denied due process because of poverty.
Pattinson has spoken about the importance of this project: “I can’t think of a better cause to be a part of than defending the rights of the poor and powerless,” he said. “The best thing about this project is that it gives you a real insight into the justice system. You get to see it from a different perspective and it really makes you think about the system and whether or not it’s just.”
Pattinson portrays Eric Addison in the film with a steely resolve. The actor credits his years of martial arts training for helping him prepare for the role. He also worked with a personal trainer to get into shape, so he could portray the physically demanding part of the crime-fighting lawyer accurately. The actor even took up kickboxing in order to improve his stamina while filming.
The script for The Rise of Pattinson was written in collaboration with Eric Addison, and tells the true story of the lawyer’s fight for justice. The role of Eric’s wife, Jennifer, was played by the accomplished English actress Alice Krumova. The couple met while acting together in a production of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, and married in 2014. Krumova has previously worked with the legendary director Stanley Kubrick on Barry Lyndon and A Clockwork Orange. The actress also starred in Fincher’s House of Gucci, which is a bold statement considering the prestige of the Gucci family and their luxurious fashion house.
The acting in The Rise of Pattinson is excellent across the board, with especially strong performances from Oscar winner Patricia Arquette and heavyweight contender Michael Shannon. The standout, however, has to be Robert Pattinson. The actor embodies the character of Eric Addison perfectly, and continues to impress with every new role he takes on.
Arguably one of the most intriguing parts of The Rise of Pattinson is the way it weaves fact with fiction. For instance, the opening scene depicts a wild orgy that follows a bachelor party in New York City. The only problem is that none of the participants in the orgy, including the audience, have any idea whether or not the events actually occurred. It’s one of the cinematic techniques that Fincher and screenwriter William Nicholson used to great effect in The Social Network. It’s also a strategy that keeps the story fresh, and prevents the audience from becoming bored.
Eric Addison’s (Pattinson) law firm is retained by Scottie Sanders (Shia LaBeouf), the wealthy son of an Iowa sugar baron. Sanders accuses Scottie’s ex-roommate Eden Hope (Evan Rachel Wood) of stabbing him. The lawyer is immediately suspicious of Sanders’ claims because of the lack of any evidence. The scene where the two men meet for the first time is one of the most anticipated moments of the film. The scene is written in the form of a chess game, with each character making a move. When the lawyer makes his move, it is clear that he senses that something is very wrong.
It’s one thing to write fiction about legal cases, but when it comes to the police and criminal investigation aspects, the story follows real-life events. The film is set in 2007, during the height of the height of the financial crisis. The producers cite the panic in the air as the main reason for choosing that particular year for the story. Like many other lawyers at the time, Eric Addison battles to get his law firm up and running again. One of the case files that he has to look through involves a woman named Tiffany Brown who was allegedly kidnapped by three men. The case was eventually solved, but the trauma from the experience led to Brown’s subsequent attempt at suicide. The producers of the film say that it was a particularly harrowing time for lawyers, as they had to work through great physical and mental stress cases. They wanted to make sure that everyone knew exactly what was going on, and how important it was that they did their job properly.
The police interrogate Brown after she’s been identified as the mastermind behind the kidnapping. The officers treat her with hostility, which the actress says is completely unwarranted. “I think that the way she was interrogated made it seem very much like she was guilty. And I don’t think that that was the case at all,” said Arquette. “I think that she was very cooperative with the police officers, and she followed their instructions well. But they were treating her like a criminal, which I don’t think was fair.”
Although the kidnapping case against Scottie Sanders is eventually proven to be false, the damage has been done. The young man is humiliated, and decides to leave school after his graduation party. On the way home, he decides to pull a gun on a traffic light and demands to know where his money is. After a brief struggle, Sanders shoots and kills the light, and flees the scene. He is later found guilty of murder and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. The police inform the media that the case, which had been deemed ‘unsolvable’, has now been officially closed. The producers of the film decided to leave the audience with a sense of hope that justice would prevail.
This is not the case, however, because not all of the traffic lights in New York are equipped with a photo-electric cell that detects whether or not a car is approaching. The absence of this cell in the aforementioned intersection leads to another, much larger police investigation being launched, and ultimately, results in the birth of another film: Denial. In Denial, Sanders’ story takes a very different turn, as he finds himself at the centre of a conspiracy involving a powerful figure from the Democratic party, and a group of wealthy investors who want to take over his company. Sanders is framed, and has to fight for his life.
In The Rise of Pattinson, the question is never really whether or not the protagonists will be found guilty; it’s whether or not they’ll be able to prove their innocence. The film is at its most fascinating when it comes to exploring the justice system and the many procedural errors that can occur in an investigation.
There are so many aspects to this story, but most importantly, it raises questions about the nature of justice and the American legal system. After all, if the police and the courts are not doing their job properly, then who is?