Dir: David Cronenberg, 2012
Young billionaire Eric Packer slowly cruises through the cluttered streets of Manhattan in his limousine, searching for a haircut at his favourite barber’s. Along the way, Packer encounters groups of anarchists, mourners of a late hip-hop star and various members of his entourage. Through all this, Packer loses control while his finances haemorrhage, the city erupts into chaos and a threat against his life becomes more and more credible.
The more Robert Pattinson steps away from R-Patz, the more interesting he becomes. Firstly, his public slating of the Twilight franchise and definition of his participation in the franchise as a business decision and now his starring role in Cronenberg’s capitalist drama. Cosmopolis, while captivating, is hateable on almost every level. The characters are monotonous, going about their lives in a dystopian world where emotion is futile and power is everything. Pattinson is perfectly cast, bringing the expressionless and self-loathing Edward to Cronenberg, who simply added an IQ and an unglazed presence in sunlight. The character’s descent into self-destruction is underplayed in a vast mistake from Cronenberg. We know the reasons for Packer’s manic yet seemingly rational behaviour but the actual change is missing from the film completely. As stated before, the use of cast is tremendous. Names and faces slink in and out of the film including Packer’s consultant (Jay Baruchel), chief advisor (Samantha Morton), mistress (Juliette Binoche) and pastry assailant (Mathieu Amalric), all with either admiration or disdain for the leading man, although rarely having an effect.
The limousine serves as many reflections of what the film is, the slow pace mirrored in the limousine’s movements through a crowded Manhattan. The degradation of the limo’s exterior is the revealing of Packer’s character – an ugly, detestable corporate statement that is rapidly losing value. Cronenberg’s screenplay, adapted from Don DeLillo’s 2003 novel, is impressive and is so dialogue-heavy that it’s a wonder Cosmopolis was never considered for a stage setting. While well-written and fascinatingly intellectual, the numerous lengthy speeches seem too big for the actors wielding them – Pattinson and company seeming as confused (if not more) than the audience themselves. Cronenberg directs with a master class of imagery and symbolism and is clearly the man for the job. It’s just a shame the script represents itself as a college thesis that is tedious in majority, intriguing at intervals and not in the least entertaining.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆