Cosmopolis Review


David Cronenberg is known for pushing the boundaries of cinema, and his latest effort—Cosmopolis—is no different. If you think you’ve seen a boring movie, watch this one and reconsider your definition of the word. It makes Meet Joe Black feel like a Jason Bourne adventure.

What’s arguably worse than the film’s excruciating pace is its inane screenplay. Adapted from an admired Don DeLillo novel, it follows a twenty-something billionaire named Eric Parker (Robert Pattinson), who simply wants to get a haircut. His quest is proving more difficult than anticipated as a visit from the President and a famous rap star’s funeral have gridlocked midtown Manhattan.

Along the way, he plays host to a variety of acquaintances in the back of his stretch limousine. He has sex with his wife’s mother (Juliette Binoche). A business associate (Samatha Morton) talks the future of capitalism. And a doctor examines his prostate. Meanwhile, the masses are rioting all around him, and one of these individuals has Eric in his crosshairs.

It isn’t the film’s premise that fails it, but rather its execution. The dialogue is stylized to the point of being stilted. Everyone speaks as if they’re reading from a teleprompter being operated by a guy who’s both not as smart as he thinks he is and an acid fiend. Yes, the film’s characters use big-boy words and fancy analogies, but don’t be fooled; There isn’t a lick of substance behind the shit these folks are saying.

Cronenberg’s tendency for violence is put on the back burner for the second film in a row (last year’s A Dangerous Method being the first). Instead, this film (again, like his last) relies heavily on sex. Not for any particular reason, mind you. Eric doesn’t have much carnal need for sex; It’s more a way to pass the time. And he certainly isn’t picky when it comes to partners. I guess one could view this as an indictment of a certain class and culture, but that would be giving the film too much credit.

I merely bring it up because, without dramatic momentum or any real sense of purpose, it’s hard to offer the kind of scathing criticism Cosmopolis truly deserves. Sex is one noticeable theme in a film otherwise devoid of meaning. Not only that, but it’s also nasty as hell and rather poorly acted. (Don’t expect the sweet dramatic parts to start rolling in for Mr. Pattinson.) Though it’s nice to see Cronenberg working in a world that suits him better than stuffy, turn-of-the-century Switzerland, one can’t help but see Cosmopolis as a big missed opportunity and a massive disappointment.

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