Does Joe Alwyn Have It?
The answer may surprise you...
For years, the film industry has been plagued not by the rise of monotonous superhero franchise installments or the lack of first gay studio rom-com, but an even more elusive question: Does Joe Alwyn have it?
Whether you like him or not, whether he has it or doesn’t have it, Joe Alwyn is one of those good-looking, pallid white men of Anglican origin whom we’ve seen on screens both big and small and plane seat-size for years now without knowing the answer. Austin Butler? He had a big breakout summer in Elvis. He has it. Skyler Gisondo? I hope his neck gets better soon, and he has it. Paul Mescal? Despite being engaged to Phoebe Bridgers, he also has it. So, why can’t we decide about Joe Alwyn?
Alwyn burst onto the scene in 2016 with Ang Lee’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, but was granted either the blessing or curse of that film’s nausea-inducing frame rate as a distraction from whether he has it. Since then, he’s worked steadily in supporting parts in films by Yorgos Lanthimos, Claire Denis, Joanna Hogg, and Joel Edgerton. But he’s also been in shit like Mary Queen of Scots. Remember Mary Queen of Scots? Margot Robbie looked bad on purpose.
What perhaps does him the greatest disservice in the mystery of whether Alwyn has it is being either engaged-or-not to Taylor Swift, his partner of six years. Her larger-than-life presence in today’s pop-culture landscape has swallowed up much attention on him outside of her. He’s notoriously quiet on the subject of their relationship (fair) and otherwise private on his process (sure), unwilling to play the Fallon late-night games or host SNL (literally imagine).
Still: it’s time to plant a flag. Does Joe Alwyn have it? I’ve decided:
Joe Alwyn has it.
Yes! Joe Alwyn has it. He’s funny in The Favourite, hunky in Catherine Called Birdy, mysterious in Stars at Noon, and lovely in The Souvenir Part II. I bet he’s good in Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk too but I can’t watch that movie without getting a migraine. Though he’s unshowy and relatively normal, he’s proven himself something better than a blonde-haired leading man: a blonde-haired supporting performer. He never draws too much attention to himself. He always knows how to better service a scene. You never come away from a movie that Joe Alwyn is in wishing he hadn’t made one choice or another. He’s reliable, and better yet, basically normal. You don’t see him playing a freaky alien. You don’t see him making a fool of himself. You see him and go, “oh, right, that’s Joe Alwyn,” and move on with your life.
To address the elephant in the room: Hulu’s Conversations with Friends was bad for everyone involved, including Alwyn and the people’s hero Jemima Kirke. But if Hulu TV shows controlled the pop-culture landscape, then Dopesick would have won Emmys. Joe Alwyn is bigger than Sally Rooney (sorry) and he is bigger than the concept of a limited series. He is a movie star on the up-and-up, and he’s here to stay.