Review: Cosmopolis

Directed by: David Croenberg.

Starring: Robert Pattinson, Sarah Gordon, Kevin Durand, Juliette Binoche, Samantha Morton, Paul Giamatti.

Rating: Running Time: 108 mins.

Robert Pattinson plays the part of Eric Packer, a wall street trader who at the movie’s start, standing with his chief of security Torval (Kevin Durand) decides that it’s time for him to get a haircut at his usual barber’s across town. Despite Torval advising him that the President of the United States is in town today and the roads and traffic will make the trip near impossible by the end of the day, he decides to go there instead of choosing one of the two random barbers in view along the street from where he currently stands.

Whilst in his stretched limozine, Packer meets with various business colleagues and characters, discussing things relative to his business, to top things off, Torval notifies him that there has been a credible threat made on his life. Adding to this is the fact that this may be the worst day of his working life, a day when his entire financial worth is being threatened by his trading against a certain currency in the foreign exchange market.

David Cronenberg has a very strange yet visceral take on the world. While the idea isn’t his own (it’s based on the novel of the same name by writer Don Delillo) and he didn’t create the source material, it’s rumoured that he wrote the script for Cosmopolis in around six days. Wether that’s true or not I don’t know, but I can believe it as I’m severely sorry to say that the movie is a train wreck of a disaster, as though it’s been made far too early in the refining process.

The dialogue is like something out of a really bad Shakespeare play, not so much in the wording but that the characters speak to each other in sentences that are non-sequiters half of the time, quite often changing topic only to come back to the same topic in a way that’s not only very distracting but is just not functional in a movie. It’s like the conversations have been edited from two or three long takes, all going on at once, but not from the editing, rather from the writing. The narrative of the movie is also extremely dis-jointed, jumping from one scene in the limo to a scene in another setting at a couple of points without anything to setup the change in scenery. It’s possible this could be the result of editing to get the movie’s running time down, but I would only think that had it been a good 15 minutes shorter. At 108 minutes the movie’s pace isn’t rushing to get where it’s going, usually a good thing, though not in this case.

Robert Pattinson, despite his character’s almost random and impulsive acts, does give an extremely strong performance, he does manage to keep the audience’s attention throughout the movie, but at times when you should be interested in what he’s saying, through no fault of his own, the dialogue just starts to border on monotonous twaddle that you begin to lose interest. Samantha Morton makes a small appearance in the movie when the two of them are discussing… well that’s it, I’m not entirely sure what they were discussing. Samantha Morton as well as the likes of veteran actors Juliette Binoche and Paul Giamatti who all have these small moments in the movie, give strong performances and have screen presence, but the dialogue is so offputting that it’s not only a struggle to follow, but to be interested in what’s being discussed. The delivery can only be described as extremely blank at points, with very little emotion that is so detached that it feels like the cast are just reciting them.

There’s an extremely strong sexual undertone to the movie, during which the protagonist Eric Packer has sex with two different women, as well as having a sexually tense conversation with another (at the same time as a doctor examines his prostate during a daily physical examination he is getting while in his limo), while at several moments during the movie trying to convince his apparently new wife Elise (Sarah Gordon) who claims he smells of sex, that it’s the sex he wants to have with her. One of his lines during their first meeting on screen is ‘When are we going to have sex again?’ and in a later meeting, he invites her to choose one of the two nearest hotels down the street if she’ll go there with him there and then.

The direction is very still for the majority of the scenes set in the limo – more than half of the movie. Those sequences for the majority are also extremely silent, with the limo being soundproofed, when a door or window is opened we’re flooded with the noises of a bustling city, but it’s not enough to prevent a somewhat numbing effect on the viewer. There’s no sense of the engine of the vehicle, and with the view in the windows, which occasionally change to blacked out windows, there’s no sense of movement. When the windows are tinted to see through, the view outside if off that it looks like it’s a green screen, though honestly more than not I don’t think it was, just a side effect of the camera being so still that it doesn’t feel right.

Cosmopolis just doesn’t work as a movie. I can’t say how it relates to the book’s source material as I haven’t read it, but I would hope that it doesn’t relate to the book at all or else it’s a very monotonous book. Cosmopolis as a movie is purely for the die hard Cronenberg fanatic, and I suspect that even they will be dissapointed with how subdued the director’s work is in this. Some reviews have praised this for Cronenberg intentionally making a movie with unlikable characters, don’t listen to them, they’re apologists. Unless you make the audience aware that you’re making a bad movie to make a point, you’re still making a bad movie. I don’t exactly hate it, that would at least be something, it would leave an impression. The problem is that I nothing this, and expect to not remember much of it at all in a few month’s time, and to me that’s worse.

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Posted on June 16, 2012, in Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I was going to say you were wise to skip Rock of Ages which also came out today. Unfortunately this appears to have been a bad film as well. That‘s a shame, although not surprising as Robert Pattinson is a questionable talent in my opinion.

    • Actually, T-Minus 95 minutes to that, i need to see it to review it, but cosmopolis wasn’t showing at my local, and i was heading somewhere yesterday where it was showing (luckily it didn’t cost anything more, as it’s the same chain i have an unlimited card). From what i hear, i’m not looking forwards to Rock Of Ages… and I don’t like musicals.

      Robert Pattinson has earned my respect, up until now I would have referred to him as R-Pats, but no more as here unlike the twilight movies, he is honestly giving a great performance, just in an awful mess of a movie.

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