August 12th, 2020 / 0 comments


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Robert Pattinson also appears in a haunting supporting role as a soldier, whose cold-blooded vein rsesembles that of the Colonel.


Waiting for the Barbarians has been released at a few festivals, the main being its World Premiere at Venice Film Festival in September 2019. Below are reviews that focus on Rob’s performance. I will update this with reviews as the film is released. *Updated: New reviews starting Mark Reviews Movies*


THE COOL

BFI (Venice Film Festival)

His decision to take her back to her people leads to his own arrest as a traitor and torture at the hands of the vile Mendel (Robert Pattinson). His fall is precipitous and his humiliation and torture cruel.

Variety (Venice Film Festival)

… including a foppishly snarling Pattinson … For arthouse distributors, villainous supporting turns by Johnny Depp and Robert Pattinson will bolster the kerb appeal of a film likely to divide critics at some cost to its commercial prospects.

Mirror UK (Venice Film Festival)

…but Robert Pattinson gives a much more effective but underused turn as the oppressive Officer Mandel who is barely able to contain his toxic rage.

IndieWire (Venice Film Festival)

Because once Johnny Depp turns up again to take on the hordes, this time with Robert Pattinson’s sadistic Officer Mandel in tow, we already know who are the real barbarians — but that doesn’t stop this film from hitting that point and hitting it hard.

The Playlist (Venice Film Festival)

 Notwithstanding how central torture is to the film, we see very little of it and most comes after the arrival of Joll’s repulsively violent apprentice, Officer Mandel (Robert Pattinson).

Abus de Ciné [Ray Lamaj] (Deauville Film Festival)

…the actors are all excellent, even Robert Pattinson, whose role as a sadistic officer would have been the perfect ground for cabotinage, a trap in which he never falls.

Screen Daily (Venice Film Festival)

Robert Pattinson (commendably solid in a small role) … left to the tender mercies of police officer Mandel (a smoothly, discreetly unnerving Pattinson). …  Pattinson, thankfully, livens things up.

Big Picture Film Club (Venice Film Festival)

… it takes a long while before we see a glimpse of Robert Pattinson (The Lighthouse, High Life). While we, from the bottom of our hearts, want to believe the powerful traits of his officer Mandel, it’s hard to do that. Not only because of Pattinson’s laughter but also because he lacks a little bit of charisma in this movie. His performance might have its flaws but it was still very enjoyable to watch.

Bina007 (Venice Film Festival)

… and later by his sidekick Mandel (Robert Pattinson).  Both men play their characters as brittle, humourless sadists, relishing their roles in fabricating a border threat, and then ruthlessly torturing the nomads who wander into town.

Cinopsis (Belgium) (Venice Film Festival)

Johnny Depp and Robert Pattinson are chilling, impeccable.

Derek Winnert (Venice Film Festival)

… though Robert Pattinson has disappointingly little to do as Joll’s equally evil factotum, Officer Mandel, another eager torturer. Pattinson looks a real bad guy, a human vampire, out-weirding Depp.

Electric Shadows (Venice Film Festival)

… an equally menacing turn from Robert Pattinson as his protégé Mandel. Either smirking or furious, Pattinson’s Mandel is a dyed-in-the-wool empire man. Never questioning the ends justifying the means, Mandel is given climactic pause in a potent scene when the Magistrate confronts him with a simple question.

Every Eye (Venice Film Festival)

And then there’s a Robert Pattinson brutal and terrifying, yet another stage in an actor’s journey that involves radical changes from one role to another 

Lupiga (Venice Film Festival)

… the Hollywood stars of large caliber have colorful but still supporting roles, with Pattinson being denied space to show his skill

Micropsiacine (San Sebastian Film Festival)

Unfortunately, Pattinson is somewhat wasted in the role …

Uncut (Austria) (Venice Film Festival)

In the last third, Robert Pattinson also appears in a haunting supporting role as a soldier, whose cold-blooded vein resembles that of the Colonel.

Third Coast Review (US Release)

The film is beautifully shot and composed by legendary British cinematographer Chris Menges (who won Oscars for both The Mission and The Killing Fields), and I particularly loved the way he shoots Depp and Pattinson as if they are murderous statues. They’re dressed impeccably in their dress uniforms, as if that makes their actions and attitudes less horrific.

Spectator US (US Release)

Pattinson has been on an interesting trajectory since his Twilight days. Rather than embracing stardom like previous heartthrobs, he’s leveraged it to work on unusual pictures with David Cronenberg and Claire Denis, among others. His Mandel is athletic, handsome and domineering. Like Ronald Merrick in Paul Scott’s Raj Quartet, he has grown cruel in the imperial hothouse.

Skewed and Reviewed (US Release)

Robert Pattinson, while not featured until more than half-way through the film, does an outstanding job as officer Mandel, and lead torturer.  His character compliments Depp’s character and the two of them make for a frightening duo. … It’s visually a masterpiece and the strong acting by not only Depp and Pattinson, but by Mark Rylance drive this epic home.

Live for Film (US Release)

Fans of the new Batman may be disappointed that Pattinson’s screen time is limited, but he shows again what an accomplished actor he has become since sparkling in a different way, in his early career choices.

Datebook SF Chronicle (US Release)

One more performance must be mentioned, however, and it’s Robert Pattinson’s as an officer in the imperial police force. He plays a man who’s younger than Depp’s colonel, less sick and less impenetrable. But he’s old enough, sick enough and hard enough. It’ll take him a few years, but give him time, someday he’ll be a monster, too.

Roger’s Movie Nation (US Release)

Pattinson? His tiny part basically is just a name and a costume who got the film financed, although he acquits himself well enough.

Under the Radar (US Release)

 Joll and Officer Mandel (Robert Pattinson) are cynical, psychotic archetypes of authority whose performances are measured enough to strike fear without feeling overly hammy.

Eye for Film (UK)

Depp contributes little to the film beyond what is provided in the script, but functions adequately enough as a foil to the Magistrate and also contrasts interestingly with Robert Pattinson’s Officer Mandel, whose more emotional nature feels like a relief until one sees how quickly it can turn into viciousness. Though his role is only small, Pattinson does a lot with it, the only person present who humanise the brutality of empire to any degree.

The Digital Fix (US Release)

Once we witness the magistrate’s flagellation at the hands of the malevolent Officer Mandel (Robert Pattinson in another unexpected role) we see the subtle craft in how Rylance reacts to a situation

The Only Critic (US Release)

Rylance and Pattinson share a few colorful scenes in the films better half, Rylance with his rebellious edge and eagerness to help others and Pattinson, with his pissed-off grin and sadistic smile, are a perfect foil. At one point Rylance’s character asks Pattinson: “How do you eat?” Referring to his appetite after torturing and murdering innocent civilians and Pattinson just stares him down. It’s the type of potboiler tension missing from the majority of the film and makes you want to see an entire picture just about their relationship.

Flickering Myth (US Release)

 Robert Pattinson also makes an appearance during the second half of the movie, and while he is fine for what he has been tasked to do, I also couldn’t really tell you what convinced him to take on such a small and forgettable role.

Maddwolf (US Release)

Mandel is an even smaller role, but Pattinson makes him the eager realization of the ugliness Joll keeps bottled up. It’s another interesting choice for the gifted Pattinson, and another film that’s better for it.

NY Times (US Release)

Later, Robert Pattinson, as a cruel Joll underling, joins the evil-doing, kicking in a few cartoon-imperialist sneers and sadistic laughs.

Rolling Stone (US Release)

The situation escalates when Joll and his right-hand, Officer Mandel (Pattinson, oozing rage)

Deadline (US Release)

… and another offbeat supporting role for Robert Pattinson… Pattinson seems to struggle a bit with his Officer role but, in his brief appearances, makes a game try at putting some flesh on those bones anyway.

Daily Herald (US Release)

Late in the film, Robert Pattinson arrives as Mandel, another nasty officer; the charismatic actor injects some needed energy into the proceedings. He has some good scenes …

The Spool (US Release)

By contrast, Pattinson gives what is easily the film’s best performance. Random English accent aside, he does a fantastic job of playing a scummy and kind of pathetic fascist. His performance gives Mandel the feeling of a small man who’s high on power and violence, but incredibly hollow without that power. Every moment he’s on screen, you despise him more and more. Even though Joll is clearly the more morally despicable one of the pair, Depp’s performance really can’t sell it, and Pattinson really shows him up. 

New Republic (US Release)

There’s a quietly disorienting scene in which the disheveled magistrate appears in his own expropriated office before Joll and a younger colleague, played by Depp’s cinematic heir, Robert Pattinson.

LA Times (US Release)

Depp, emitting a death-ray glare from behind dark spectacles, brings a nice chill to the proceedings; so does an unusually vicious Robert Pattinson in the role of Joll’s attack dog. But while both actors are awfully good at playing bad (check out Pattinson’s louche comic swagger in the recent medieval drama “The King”), their presence here feels thin and secondhand; they’re basically there to embody an oppressive authoritarian menace, rather than to prove a more distinctive brand of villainy.

Boston Herald (US Release)

Pattinson, as Joll’s enforcer, is malignant enough to make you eager to see his version of the Dark Knight.

We Are Movie Geeks (US Release)

Rylance, Depp and Pattinson are all superb,

Reel360 (US Release)

Robert Pattinson comes in half way through the story to add a more hot headed, testosterone fueled representation of the “good soldier,” eagerly doling out violence in service of some greater allegiance.

New York Post (US Release)

A flinty-eyed Pattinson shows up midway through as Officer Mandel, who savors his sadistic work even more than Joll, and soon the Magistrate is being treated as horribly as the captives.

Mark Reviews Movies (US) Release

Robert Pattinson, who arrives near the beginning of the third act as one of the colonel’s underlings, downplays his own character’s disarmingly cruel nature with some well-timed, disconcerting chuckles.

Chicago Sun-Times (US Release)

The colonel (and eventually his sociopathic associate, played by Robert Pattinson, who does what he can with an underwritten monster of a character) …

The Main Edge (US Release)

Pattinson’s violence is closer to the surface, explosive and dismissive at the same time; he’s very good even though he doesn’t really turn up until over halfway through the film. 

Spirituality & Practice (US Release)

Johnny Depp and Robert Pattinson put in chilling performances as hard-as-nails authoritarians who share a lust for power.

Cinema Without Borders (Translated from Spanish)

Robert Pattinson fans are likely to be disappointed, as the actor’s talents are wasted in a brief minor role that is not of much consequence, and only intervenes in the last act of the film.

The Screening Room (US Release)

Barbarians” is not without its flaws, but there’s enough here to make it worth seeing. While Pattinson’s role is severely underwritten …

Ready Steady Cut (US Release)

It takes ages for Robert Pattinson to show up in Waiting for the Barbarians. He plays Officer Mandel, another deliciously awful imperial stooge, but he’s worth waiting for. He and Depp both make a meal of their performances to better emphasise how much delight the Empire take in their oppression,

TheArtsstl (US Release)

Robert Pattinson does better as the vicious Officer Mandel

Giant Freakin Robot (US Release)

And though Robert Pattinson shows up solely as a more extroverted arm of Joll, he still brings his usual commitment to his brief screen time.

What She Said (US Release)

Robert Pattinson shows up for a split second as Joll’s right-hand man, pretty and evil.

Entertainment Voice (US Release)

Rylance seems almost fragile next to the true believers, such as Officer Mandel, played with subdued, psychotic venom by Robert Pattinson. Mandel is brought in to enforce Joll’s brutal sense of order. Pattinson acutely conveys the violent follower, who the Magistrate challenges to explain how he can even eat after torturing another human being.


THE CRUEL

The Guardian (Venice FF)

Pattinson is a puzzle. Such a revelation in Good Time, and charismatically enigmatic in The Lost City of Z, he just as often looks uncomfortable. His performance here is somehow both stiff and overarticulated. At least he gets one of the film’s best lines, when he thanks the residents of the fort he’s terrorised for their hospitality, then scarpers.

The Hollywood Reporter (Venice FF)

It is here, about halfway in, that Joll’s secretary, Pattinson’s Officer Mandel, makes his entrance. Sadly, it’s a rather flat supporting role that breaks the actor’s recent hot streak of superb character work in The Lost City of Z, Good Time, High Life, The Lighthouse and, also in Venice this year, his best-in-show cameo in The King. 

The Digital Fix (London Film Festival)

… this time led by the equally as unpleasant Mendel (Robert Pattinson in bad form) … While this is the best we’ve seen from Depp in some time, his character is brutally one-note, as is Pattinson’s.

Cinefilos (Venice Film Festival)

The entry of the bad colonel Joll (Depp), nor that of his helpful stooge, played by Robert Pattinson, is not enough to give backbone to a lazy story.

Filmuforia (London Film Festival)

Robert Pattinson is handed a rather bum role in playing Joll’s sneering secretary, Officer Mandel, in contrast to his fabulous recent run with the French Dauphin in The King, High Life and The Lighthouse.

The Upcoming (London Film Festival)

… along with his brutal sidekick Officer Mandel (a rather uncomfortable Robert Pattinson) …

Punch Drunk Critics (US Release)

Pattinson strikes a menacing image as Mandel, but his part is tiny and one-note.

Roger Ebert (US Release)

Robert Pattinson is also in this movie, and appears in this review in a similar fashion: toward the end, and barely of any importance. He plays an assisting officer to Colonel Joll who sometimes scowls and sometimes screams, and does little else. Given that the film was shot in 2018, when Pattinson had plenty of screen clout, you’re not sure how much of his footage is on the cutting room floor. But there is a clear sense of the movie trying to squeeze him into shots with Depp, or include cutaways shots despite Pattinson having nothing to say. 


Lost in Translation

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    The Batman Role: Bruce Wayne | Batman
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