Despite circumstances ensuring that Manhattan will be gridlocked all day, young multi-billionaire fund manager Eric Packer (Pattinson) decides to venture across town to get a haircut in his state-of-the-art limousine-come-office. Watching as global currency fluctuations result in major financial losses, he embarks on a path of self destruction…
While Canadian filmmaker David Cronenberg is something of an acquired taste at the best of times, it’s hard to imagine who Cosmopolis will appeal to. On one hand there’s nothing here for mainstream audiences (despite the casting of contemporary mega-hunk Robert Pattinson), while on the other even open-minded film fans will find it difficult (read: impossible) to engage with. Strange and bizarre – even for Cronenberg – it’s essentially two hours of Pattinson and co yakking tediously about the financial market, various philosophical musings and rat currency. The running time clocks in at 109 minutes, but it feels closer to 901.
Certainly, you can’t fault Cronenberg’s cerebral ambitions, but the result is almost entirely uninvolving and impenetrable. Arguably crippled from inception, Cosmopolis is adapted from Don DeLillo’s un-adaptable novella, leaving us with something which doesn’t translate to the big screen. While DeLillo’s words may read as intelligent and engrossing on the page, they feel forced, awkward and stagey here, consistently falling flat in a manner that – while likely intended – is lifeless and detached.
Every now and then we’re woken up by a lively moment (such as someone being stabbed repeatedly in the eye), but soon enough we’re back to another interminable conversation. Cronenberg has assembled an impressive array of support – Kevin Durand, Mathieu Amalric, Juliette Binoche, Samantha Morton, Jay Baruchel and Paul Giamatti – but most just pop into Packer’s limo for a bewildering chin-wag before disappearing. Robert Pattinson fares reasonably well, taking another interesting role outside the Twilight series, but he’s somewhat castrated by a purposefully blank and unsympathetic character. Beautiful title sequence mind you.
While filmmaker David Cronenberg is something of an acquired taste at the best of times, it’s hard to imagine who Cosmopolis will appeal to. On one hand there’s nothing here for mainstream audiences, while on the other even open-minded film fans will find it difficult to engage with.