David Cronenberg is just one of those directors. A director who’s oeuvre contains so many stand out achievements they neutralise the acidity of any of the flops he’s ever made. He’s a director that’s been referred to as “the most audacious and challenging narrative director in the English-speaking world.” a title I would put as being not too far away from him. However, every director has their parvum opus and this is his. Cosmopolis ends up describing itself through a subtle line of dialogue around 15 minutes in: “Something half intelligent yet ultimately shallow”
Cosmopolis based on the 2003 novella written by Don Delillo follows ostentatious billionaire yuppie ‘Eric Packer’ (Robert Pattinson) as he rides around in his limo all day, travelling the length and breadth of New York to get his hair cut. However, as the President is in town and there’s an anti Capitalism march rocking the streets Eric finds it difficult to get anywhere fast, and ends up meeting everyone who’s ever had importance in his life along the way.
One of the huge faults in Cronenberg’s film is the abhorrent, airy and overtly pretentious dialogue that through out the run time of the film actually left me close to laughing in bewilderment. The dialogue gives Cronenberg’s film a level of a self aware and cock sure arrogance about the themes and message it’s trying to deliver; it’ll swoop from melodramatic brooding statements on cyber capitalism to bathetic sexual pick up lines before you have time to process what he’s actually trying to convey. Cosmopolis is a classic example of pseudo-intelligence being allowed to run free without any sort of logical restraint.
However, dialogue is arguably only as bad as its deliverance. Many saw Robert Pattinson’s casting in Cosmopolis a chance to free himself from the Vampire-Heart Throb image he’s been bound to for 4 years now. But, instead of giving audiences an assured, mature and thought provoking performance he just brings his Twilight best to the show; a moody, restrained and all too obvious performance that can’t quite hack the intensity of dialogue. There are numerous scenes during the film where Pattinson crushes under the weight of it all; most obviously the final scene where his performance gives a more ‘rebellious teenager’ feel than a man contemplating both physical and mental pain.
Overall, Cosmopolis is an absolute misfire, so much so I don’t even know what he was going for in the first place. It’s arrogant, didactic, psuedo-philosophical nonsense from a director than can and has done so much better. Cosmopolis is ridden with opportunities to achieve cinematic greatness and it throws it all away by forgetting to have any sort of substance about its airy nature; so much is spoken yet so little is actually said.
Review by LiveWire Young Film Critic, Jay Crosbie (June ’12)