February 21st, 2015 / 5 Comments

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Reviews from the ‘Queen of the Desert’ premiere at Berlinale have begun to roll in. Below are excerpts on Rob’s performance as ‘T.E. Lawrence’.  This post will be updated as new reviews come in.  Since translation via Google can be inaccurate, I will post extracts under the reviews that seem straightforward, otherwise I’ll leave the ambiguous ones alone and just post the links under the section Lost in Translation.  If anyone wants to translate for us, we would be more than appreciative.


4:3 Films

“Herzog establishes this mode of comedic disturbance from the outset of the film, the opening scene greeting us with a gentleman’s club of British military heavyweights deciding how they’ll divvy up the Ottoman Empire as if they’re playing a casual game of Risk, leaving the difficult countries like leftover scraps they’d rather let the French clean up. At the table is T.E. Lawrence (“of Arabia”), played by Robert Pattinson, whose every performance necessarily carries with it the unmistakable presence of his galactic, all-engulfing fame. We don’t see him until someone asks his opinion, where he’s suddenly revealed in a close-up. The audience laughed – they saw Robert Pattinson, not T.E. Lawrence. His performance, and that of his co-stars James Franco and Nicole Kidman, is one of playful self-awareness orchestrated by Herzog.  ….  Seen as a playful, comic, romantic epic, a burlesque inversion of Lawrence of Arabia, there is plenty of pleasure to be had in watching Queen of the Desert. Like an old Hollywood film that sweeps up its audience with a cascading score, graceful cinematography and romantic notions of adventure, but one which delivers its audience with a subversive side-helping of Brechtian distanciation.”

Cineclub.de [German]

“… with Nicole Kidman , Robert Pattinson and James Franco in the lead roles is probably the most prominent ranking international production of the main competition at the Berlinale and certainly could arrive quite well also at the box office.”


“Another man who sees her promise is T.E. Lawrence, who’s played, is seems to everyone’s general astonishment, by Robert Pattinson. Pattinson isn’t bad as Lawrence – he has a public school affability that eventually wins over – but the unintended consequence is that the film inevitably compares to David Lean’s magnum opus.”

Clap.ch (Switzerland)

“There, she will meet the young TE Lawrence, played by Robert Pattinson. Surprising choice for this actor best known for his performances in the saga Harry Potter then of Twillight for movies or historical costume. His appearance on the screen immediately sparked some laughter from the audience of the Berlin festival, but Pattinson defends this (small) role quite well.”


“Robert Pattinson gets relatively high marks for his brief turn as the bonafide T.E. Lawrence.”

Das Manifest: (Germany)

” Robert Pattinson is as Lawrence of Arabia quite embarrassed, but brings life to the sandbox …”

Faz.net: (Germany)

“TE Lawrence, played here by a charming, mischievous dandy Robert Pattinson (and the first appearance with the typical head-dress the pop full cinema laugh brought) is their ally in the spirit: “If God be fair, I’m afraid for my country. “

Flinke Filme (Germany)

“Robert Pattinson on the other hand, now slowly but surely the right roles gets absolutely can convince with the usual for the time Hemdärmeligkeit and still idealistic desire to research as a young Lawrence. The two-three scenes with Pattinson actually belong to the bright spots of the film.”


“The most ironic aspect of the enterprise is that the one man with whom Bell conducts believable, intriguing dealings is the one upon whom her sex-appeal has zero effect: none other than T.E. Lawrence himself, played with a plummy-voiced knowingness by Robert Pattinson. Pattinson doesn’t get very much screen time here, but manages to come up with a Lawrence a universe away from Peter O’Toole’s iconic portrayal – a kind of proto-Beat rebel in fancy Arab duds – and his dialogue exchanges with Kidman have a little touch of Steed and Mrs. Peel that at least gives their scenes some kind of oomph.”

Kurier (Austria)

“The fact that it occurred with Robert Pattinson Arabs rag on his head as Lawrence of Arabia in a supporting role, made the audience burst into joyful laughter.”

Le Monde (France)

“Robert Pattinson, priceless TE Lawrence) …”

MoveIt Mag (Greece):

“The interpretations of the rest of the cast (Franco, Lewis and Pattinson) also fit the style of Herzog, with Pattinson in a remainder indifferent role”

Movie Mezzanine:

“Premiering in competition at this year’s Berlinale, Queen of the Desert presents something of an outlier in the Herzog canon. Besides recent collaborations with Nicolas Cage and Christian Bale, Herzog is a director who has rarely worked with superstar names, or especially mainstream narrative frames. Yet here he takes on a weighty Hollywood cast – Kidman, James Franco, Homeland’s Damian Lewis – in what possesses all the hallmarks of a classic ‘prestige picture’. The presence of a wincing Robert Pattinson as T.E. Lawrence also evokes the spectre of Queen’s most obvious comparator, Lawrence of Arabia, mining as it does the same period of history – the breakdown of colonial control over the Middle East, coinciding with World War One – as well as the use of sparse Bedouin landscape for breathtaking widescreen cinema.”

Out Now (Swiss/German)

“After the devastating events of the First World War she joined boundary negotiations into force and finally meets the man who changed her life: TE Lawrence (Robert Pattinson).” (Score:  4 out of 6 stars)

Sight & Sound
“I say, yes, this biopic of English archeologist, linguist and explorer Gertrude Bell is somewhat dashed off, and doesn’t look great, but if you’re in a forgiving mood it’s a lot of fun, because the dialogue is full of Herzogian banter.”
The Daily Star (Lebanon)
“Pattinson’s depiction of T.E. Lawrence as a public school fop with a flare for theatricality is a not-unwelcome cinematic counterpoint to Peter O’Toole’s dramatically effective, if exaggerated, reading of the historical record in David Lean’s 1962 epic “Lawrence of Arabia.””

The Film Stage:

“The rest of the film charts Bell’s travels through the Middle East, discovering the geography of the region and immersing herself in its culture. She encounters various historical figures, such as T.E. Lawrence (Robert Pattinson, in hilariously pretentious form)”

The Focus Pull:

When Robert Pattinson and James Franco made their first appearances on-screen, they were laughed at by the press, merely for being easily identifiable icons in a large-budget film. Pattinson went on to prove himself in a well-played, modest role as the legendary T.E. Lawrence, as immortalized by Peter O’Toole in David Lean’s classic Lawrence of Arabia – a film whose influence has a strong presence in Queen of the Desert. Of course Pattinson is doomed to be endlessly compared to the shadow of O’Toole for taking on the role, but this makes his performance all the more admirable.

The Frame Game (Greece):

“… and a Robert Pattinson who, despite the previously positive interpretation of samples, just appears dressed as “Lawrence of Arabia for Halloween”.

The Guardian:

“There she is to encounter Lawrence himself, played boyishly by Robert Pattinson. He looks a little self-conscious in the headdress – though perhaps no more self-conscious than Lawrence himself looked in it. His appearance got a few laughs from the Berlin festival audience, but Pattinson carried off this (minor) role well enough.”

The Hollywood Reporter:

“The brief but significant appearances of Robert Pattinson as T.E. Lawrence aside, the film seems less likely to draw comparison to David Lean‘s classic foray into the desert sands than it is to a dated breed of 1980s romantic bio-drama, begging to be redubbed Out of Arabia.”

The Independent:

“A world premiere in The Berlin Festival this weekend, the film might best be described as Herzog’s feminist version of Lawrence Of Arabia. T.E. Lawrence himself appears (played in eccentric, tongue in cheek fashion by Robert Pattinson of Twilight fame) … Pattinson’s performance, meanwhile, is comic and a very long way removed from Peter O’Toole. He plays Lawrence Of Arabia as a sharp-tongued, sardonic figure who can see through the pretensions of his bosses and colleagues

The People’s Movies:

“With the exception of Robert Pattinson as T.E. Lawrence, her male counterparts are somewhat lacking.”

The Playlist:

“…of the actors not overwhelmed by the heavy sense that “we’re playing old-timey dudes in old-timey duds,” Robert Pattinson (though the duds do sit awkwardly on him), for words about whom, I’ll face the fact that probably 75% of the readers of this review will have expressly tuned in, is most surprising. The part is small. He only has a few scenes, but helped by the writing of TE Lawrence as an ego-driven but lighthearted, whimsical brainbox, he actually sounds like he believes he is living in modern times, not some anachronistic recreation. And so even when he has ponderous words to say, such as when he quotes Jefferson’s famous, damning line, “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just,” he does so lightly, conversationally — unconvincing costume aside, he lets a little life in.”




“The other man in her life is TE Lawrence – Lawrence of Arabia – though he is more gay best friend than love interest. As Lawrence, Twilight’s Robert Pattinson is unconvincing and faintly ridiculous. His first appearance on screen – a keffiyeh on his head so we can’t miss him – caused a ripple of snorts and giggles to pass through the audience in Berlin.” (Score: 2 out of 5 stars)

Critic.de (Germany)

“a ridiculously staged Lawrence of Arabia (Robert Pattinson) …”

Der Tagesspiegel

“Robert “Twilight” Pattinson with Palli-cloth at the negotiating table alongside the military Churchill, which provided for the noon show at the Berlinale Palast for first laughter.”

Derek Malcolm:

“With Nicole Kidman playing her and James Franco and Damian Lewis as her would-be lovers, let alone Robert Pattinson as T.E.Lawrence ( cue a roar of laughter from a knowing Berlin audience) the result is a lumbering and often stodgy historical epic in which the camels, dromedaries and sand dunes are the most attractive components.”

Dog and Wolf:

“Despite a suitably buttoned-up performance from Damian Lewis, Nicole Kidman, James Franco and Robert Pattinson appear unmoored – left directionless in front of the camera and unable to muster the stiff-upper-lip of the Victorian Brit.”

First Showing:

“- A forgettable mess. I don’t have much to say about this one because I forgot about it as soon as it was over. Nicole Kidman is actually quite good as Gertrude Bell, but the film is bad, not even worth seeing for yourself bad. Just (re)watch Lawrence of Arabia instead.”


“To compound his problems, Herzog has mixed luck with the A-list cast. … as is Robert Pattinson as an unlikely T.E. Lawrence.”

Flix.gr (Greece)

“… Pattinson, embodying the TE Lawrence brought literally burst of laughter in the room, with costumed attire of Lawrence of Arabia as a costume.”

Kino-zeit.de (Germany)

“… the film draws much is the real Lawrence of Arabia, although the latter also appears here in the form of Robert Pattinson. And here we are already at one of several weak points of the film: the occupation. Three Stars indulges in Herzog: Kidman, Franco and Pattinson and none of the three can really carry this film.”

Kultur (Germany)

Queen often the Desert cometh therefore like a brave glossy copy of his earlier work. Even during the occupation rub your eyes in disbelief: Nicole Kidman in the title role, Hollywood womanizer James Franco and Damian Lewis (known as “Brody” in the series Homeland ) than their lovers and, in all seriousness, Robert Pattinson as a young Lawrence of Arabia.”

Little White Lies:

“Robert Pattinson as ‘Lawrence’ [c/o Lawrence of Arabia fame] hasn’t much to do beyond consistently sport a keffiyeh and look at “Gertie” with a roguish ‘we’re British Empire rebels together’ glint in his eyes.”

Loose Lips:

“This is a film with zero chemistry – enter Robert Pattinson as Lawrence of Arabia.

Again, it was like he was acting in a room by himself, but Pattinson as T.E. Lawrence was single-handedly the funniest thing I’ve seen on screen this year. The audience burst into uproarious laughter on the first shot of him on screen in Lawrence garb – he hadn’t yet muttered a word. I don’t know what the thought was behind this casting choice, but oh my god, it got a bigger laugh than James Franco speaking the Queen’s English.”

Movie Mezzanine:

“The presence of a wincing Robert Pattinson as T.E. Lawrence also evokes the spectre of Queen’s most obvious comparator, Lawrence of Arabia, mining as it does the same period of history – the breakdown of colonial control over the Middle East, coinciding with World War One – as well as the use of sparse Bedouin landscape for breathtaking widescreen cinema. .. Herzog has created by far the greatest failure of his career; not to mention another car crash to add to his résumé.”

Notebook (Daniel Kasman):

“And where Kidman-Bell moves from place to place Herzog is obliged to follow, eliciting an erratic series of performances from those she confronts. The director is never able to either keep the rest of the film’s sprawl on the same even keel as the actress, nor to push her in fervor to match the oddness of Franco’s impish grin being a foundation of his Englishman’s poetic love for Bell, or the similar stunt casting of Pattison as T.E. Lawrence. The strangeness of these appearances—immediately eliciting laughter in the giant Berlinale press screening—suggest something of a canny destabilization by Herzog of a potentially sleek prestige film.”

Roger Ebert.com:

“… among whom is wily T. E. Lawrence (Robert Pattinson), a fellow eccentric with a PhD who foregoes gendered formalities by calling her Gertie—…”

Speil Film (Germany)

The latter appears in Werner Herzog’s “Queen of the Desert” as a played calculated by ex-Twilight vampire Robert Pattinson and quite strangely costumed puppet.

The List:

“Robert Pattinson, in a brief appearance as Lawrence, simply wilts on screen.”

The People’s Movies

“With the exception of Robert Pattinson as T.E. Lawrence, her male counterparts are somewhat lacking.”

The Telegraph

“From his first shot, Robert Pattinson, as T.E. Lawrence, is hysterically miscast and bad, but he’s also redeemingly cheeky: “Could you please not marry me?”, he asks Bell, hoisting up those eyebrows, when they catch up for a soul-searching interlude in Petra. “  [Maria:  redeeming?  So can’t be all that bad]

The Upcoming:

“Robert Pattinson is tongue-in-cheek as T.E. Lawrence – it’s enjoyable, but he isn’t quite suited to the part.”


“At the next stop on her travels, she encounters a young T.E. Lawrence (a consternated-looking Robert Pattinson, who, like Franco, elicited laughs in Berlin when he first appeared onscreen).”







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  • Ephie
    Posted on February 07, 2015

    Thank you very much for these Suze. Hmmmm…..I read them in full and they all seem to agree that it is a mediocre movie so I’m doubly pleased with their reaction to Rob’s performance. Even though it’s a small part he did a good job and I’m really really happy for him. Can’t wait now for Life, because he is the main lead in that along with De Haan and I truly hope it’s well received. And TRAILERS PLEASE!!!!!!!

  • Carmel
    Posted on February 07, 2015

    Rob’s reviews are pretty good in a movie that doesn’t seem to have equaled the sum of it’s parts. It sounds like Rob has delivered his challenging lines with Packer perfection and roguish glint in his eye. I’m sold.

  • Trish
    Posted on February 08, 2015

    The fact that Rob only had a few scenes in the entire movie and critics have still commented on his performance (again from the sublime to the ridiculous in terms of polarity) speaks volumes. I always chuckle up my sleeve when critics pan an actor for being ‘miscast’. Shouldn’t that accolade go to the director who cast him? Suze, this is a wonderful collection of reviews – thanks so much for compiling it. I’m really liking this ‘review’ section that seems to be becoming a regular feature here at RPAU!

  • sue
    Posted on February 12, 2015

    There is just so much to catch up on, and posts like this make it so much easier. Thank you @Suze for doing the hard yards, so that we can get to what really matters as quickly as possible. Really appreciate this and all of the ’round-up’ review posts we get here at RPAU.

  • Jules
    Posted on February 14, 2015

    Thanks Suze (and Maria for continuing to add to this) – what an amazing collection! I agree, it’s fantastic for such a small role to still have so many positive comments. Really fantastic and I am more intrigued than ever to see anything of him in this film and please can we have an official image of him soon too? pretty please *puts it out there* 🙂

    Thanks again for continuing to add to this, such an amazing job!!

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