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Twilights high school heartthrob has became an indie mainstay but will his newfound niche survive after he takes on the role of Batman?
Robert Pattinson has given better performances in better films than The Rover, yet its a brief scene from David Michods outback dystopian thriller that I always think of when it comes to defining his strange, frangible screen persona. Shortly after this otherwise stern, dour sci-fi deals one of film historys least expected needle drops in the bouncy form of Keri Hilsons Pretty Girl Rock, we cut to the daft but oddly affecting sight of Pattinson, playing a gauzy-eyed simpleton at the mercy of the wilderness, sitting in a darkened car and singing softly along to the songs cocky, skittering R&B beat: All eyes on me when I walk in / No question that this girls a ten / Dont hate me cause Im beautiful / Dont hate me cause Im beautiful.
In an otherwise strenuously masculine film, this small moment of unabashed camp is delicious, winking as it does at the young, predominantly female fanbase that followed Pattinson from the Twilight films into artier, more eccentric realms. But it also acknowledges his unusual, anti-macho star image: Pattinson is beautiful, in a willowy, alabaster, slightly aloof way that Hollywood doesnt tend to seek in leading men, though it couldnt have been more perfect for the goth androgyny of vampire romantic Edward Cullen.
The original millennial softboy before the next generation took up that phrase in earnest, Pattinsons dreamboat allure was defined by a degree of embedded femininity, a vulnerable beauty and indeed, pace Hilson, some did hate him for it. In certain male-led quarters of the internet, hating Twilight and its fangirl following was a fixation for several years: the common line on Pattinson became that he was a wan, ineffectual pretty-boy who couldnt act. The coarsest version of this teasing, of course, was confined to sweaty incel-net forums, yet it trickled into film criticism too egged on, at the zenith of Cullenmania, by non-Twilight script choices that played unabashedly to his besotted fans. Water for Elephants, Bel Ami and Remember Me were hardly great films, yet critics laid into their lush, feminine romanticism with unseemly glee.