Starring: Robert Pattinson, Sarah Gadon, Paul Giamatti, Kevin Durand, Abdul Ayoola, Juliette Binoche, Samantha Morton, Jay Baruchel, Mathieu Amalric,
Running Time: 109 minutes
Extras: In depth documentary
Apparently when others suffer an accident at work they can call any number of insurance companies to make a claim for compensation. Unfortunately the same rules don’t apply to film critics that have to sit through the likes of COSMOPOLIS, despite the fact I finished watching with scratches on my corneas where I tried to prevent myself from seeing the images, burst eardrums where I stabbed myself to stop from hearing the monotone dialogue, and multiple cuts on my arms where I had to continuously pinch myself to stay awake.
COSMOPOLIS was touted as many things; the return of David Cronenberg into the world of the weird, Robert Pattinson’s breakaway role from THE TWILIGHT SAGA, and a social commentary on how the world views the 1%. What it ends up being is a self-indulgent, boring crime against cinema. The film sees Eric Packer (Pattinson) drive around in his limo. That’s about it. He meets people, has a few conversations, and bangs some women. He makes his way through the city very slowly due to the president of the USA visiting the city.
When the film begins it is clear we are going to have problems. The first shot is the most impressive, but only because the camera operators didn’t catch the reflection of the film crew despite extra shiny cars. Pattinson and Durand stand facing forward, both trying to look vacant or concerned. I couldn’t really tell. It’s clear that they have been given some awful direction where they are told to simply look forward. This continues throughout the film, and the only time expressions really change is when Packer gets a prostate exam.
As Packer drives on he meets his wife (Gadon), some French woman (Binoche) and other such characters where they have conversations about the economic state of America. The ideas and themes may be interesting, but every speech just sounds like another rambling essay without any focus on where it’s going. I don’t want to listen to rich people reading out essays on how bad rich people are, especially ones directed so poorly. It becomes even more annoying when multiple characters just answer every question with a question.
Cronenberg is also obsessed with making misguided decisions in almost every aspect of the film. It seemed as though I was watching a workprint copy at first, as the car travelled along without any sound whatsoever. I know it was an artistic choice, and probably used to exemplify the dialogue, but it created an uncomfortable atmosphere that broke its own reality. Cronenberg also fails to bring the limousine to life as a character itself. Looking at other films with a claustrophobic setting such as PHONE BOOTH and BURIED, we can see how daring an inventive camera techniques can make the world they are set in seem infinitely larger. It also helped that those films had charismatic leads, whereas Pattinson keeps a deadpan face on delivers the script as though a slight inflection on the prose may have catastrophic repercussions.
Even when the film seems that it is going to do something, it forgets to build tension or have any payoff. A guy is stabbed in the eye…so what? Pattinson has sex with multiple women and just continues with the terrible word vomit. Pattinson is hit with a pie in a face, and then someone is shot and I don’t even know why. These random moments seem forced in to justify this being a film rather than a lengthy dissertation. I can’t even testify to having stayed awake throughout the entire film because these moments were so random and unnecessary, I may have nodded off and missed the build up.
So is there anything good to say about COSMOPOLIS? All I can really come up with is that is sounds as though Kevin Durand is doing a subtle Christopher Walken impersonation. That’s all I got. To watch COSMOPOLIS is to sit through a film with no plot where nothing happens, have endless essays dictated to you in dreary voices, and have a bunch of characters that have no character. Not exactly an intelligent, informative, or entertaining piece.
Extras: There’s an in depth documentary that may explain why this film exists. Quite why anyone would want to venture into how this film came about is beyond me; unless of course they want tips on how to avoid making such a mess.
COSMOPOLIS is released on DVD and Blu-ray 12th November 2012. You can get a copy here.