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James Franco's uncanny portrayal of James Dean keeps this biopic engrossing, even as it emphasizes the Hollywood icon's myth over his more nuanced life story. Read critic reviews

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Movie Info

Starting with his childhood in Santa Monica, this biopic explores the tumultuous life and early death of James Dean (James Franco). Dean makes his Hollywood debut in Elia Kazan's "East of Eden," opening the floodgates for his film career. While enjoying his newfound success, Dean embarks on a relationship with Italian actress Pier Angeli (Valentina Cervi). His success, however, is overshadowed by his father's (Michael Moriarty) reluctance to bridge a painfully deep gap with him.

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Critic Reviews for James Dean

All Critics (15) | Top Critics (10) | Fresh (14) | Rotten (1)

  • For Freaks & Geeks' James Franco, James Dean is a major breakthrough. He not only looks like him, but his mannerisms and his whole persona are startlingly real. This movie rests on his thin, hunched shoulders, and he carries it off.

    May 11, 2020 | Rating: A- | Full Review…
  • The movie itself is rarely adventurous, but it could prompt viewers to watch the actual Dean performances again. Credit for that would go mainly to Franco, who excels at playing this odd, conflicted figure.

    May 11, 2020 | Full Review…
  • Franco's metamorphosis into Dean ranks as one of the great TV performances of the year. And it would have been enough to earn James Dean a rave, but it's only one of several performances that set this movie apart.

    May 11, 2020 | Full Review…
  • Sick of movie-star biopics? Then there's little to change your mind in this one... It's worth seeing, though, because James Franco uncannily channels the sulky, sexy, short-lived heartthrob.

    May 11, 2020 | Full Review…
  • Franco could have walked through the role and done a passable Dean, but instead gets under the skin of this insecure, rootless young man.

    May 11, 2020 | Full Review…
  • Re-creates Dean's life and times with what might be called stunning adequacy... Franco's performance is easily the best thing in the movie, conveying Dean's essence and angst without ever becoming a mere impersonation.

    May 11, 2020 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for James Dean

  • May 03, 2013
    It's rare to see such a good television production, mostly due to the Franco's portrayal of James Dean. Although the film was detailed, it wasn't accurate.
    Sylvester K Super Reviewer
  • Aug 08, 2009
    Really liked it. Maybe a little dramatic in parts but James Franco does a pitch-perfect job!
    Sunil J Super Reviewer
  • Apr 09, 2009
    Here's an interesting movie that centralizes on the life and death of James Dean. James Franco portrays the Hollywood star in this intriguing story plot that marks his success. Worth seeing!
    Leo L Super Reviewer

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