It's unfortunate that Kristen Stewart has the pull she does with America's young women — not because she's untalented, but because of the roles with which she seems to be cursed. To date, Stewart has played, almost exclusively, functions of male characters: girlfriends, love interests, damsels in distress, objects of desire. She's almost never her own person, always hinging her existence to a prominent male lead... or, in the case of The Twilight Saga, two. Deadline reports that Stewart has now officially signed on for the developing Warner Bros. feature Focus, which stars Ben Affleck as a veteran con artist showing newbie Stewart the ropes.
We don't know much about the movie just yet, but the premise suggests two ways in which the story can manifest. The first: Stewart and Affleck can each be examined as troubled young adults in a piece that rests mutually on their cooperation and their individual performances. Or the second: Stewart's in the mix to show Affleck the error of his ways, to revitalize his will to live, to give him purpose, peace of mind, or whatever else his character is looking for. Let's hope it's not the latter... and not just because the May-December thing here would be kind of creepy.
In all of her most memorable roles, Stewart has served as a component of a male lead's journey. In Adventureland, she was a caterer to Jesse Eisenberg's self-discovery. Even with a titular role in Snow White and the Huntsman, she took backseat to her screen partner Chris Hemsworth. In the forthcoming film adaptation of Jack Kerouac's On the Road, her character is Marylou: a vehicle for Sal's realization of the identity of his beloved Dean Moriarty. And again, you know the drill with Twilight.
With an underappreciated amount of talent at her disposal, we do hope that Stewart's next step in Focus will expand her reach a bit, exhibiting a new independence and strength that this country needs in its young female idols. Luckily, the feature has a writing team with a flare for the unorthodox at its disposal: Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, the pair responsible for I Love You, Philip Morris and Bad Santa. These are legitimately funny black comedies, but more importantly, they are instilled with fresh, often bizarre, heart, and interesting lead characters. Let's hope Stewart gets the same treatment, lest we prepare for something in the vein of Ben Affleck learning a valuable 120-minute lesson about not stealing people's money, courtesy of a fair-skinned young lady comprised entirely of snarky rejoinders.
[Photo Credit: Lia Toby/Wenn]