Written and Directed by David Cronenberg.
Starring Robert Pattinson, Juliette Binoche, Sarah Gadon, Mathieu Amalric, Jay Baruchel, Kevin Durand, Samantha Morton and Paul Giamatti.
A journey across Manhattan in a stretch limousine turns into an eventful day in the life of a young billionaire asset manager.
David Cronenberg is anything but a ‘safe’ director. He takes chances and explores themes and ideas of the human psyche which many other filmmakers wouldn’t dare go anywhere near in fear of alienating their audience; many directors stick to what they know best, and although Cronenberg’s films are rarely a runaway financial success, he is constantly producing work which gets an audience thinking and he can no longer be typecast as the ‘body shock’ director. Just look at his last three pictures: Eastern Promises, A Dangerous Method, and now Cosmopolis.
Despite being a Cronenberg fan and really enjoying A Dangerous Method a lot more than some critics, I found Cosmopolis to be a complete disaster from beginning to end. Both A Dangerous Method and Cosmopolis are very word-heavy scripts and contain little or no action or excitement, but A Dangerous Method was interesting and was based on intelligent characters who, when they spoke, you believed what they were saying and that they would speak the dialogue they spoke. In Cosmopolis, the dialogue rapidly grows tedious and becomes unfathomable as to what the point to any of it is, or where it is going. This is a one act film in desperate need of a plot.
The true failings are in Cronenberg attempting to bring Don DeLillo’s novel to the screen. I read the novel a few months ago having watched the trailer for the film and was intrigued to find out more especially as I’d not read any DeLillo before. The book, like so many, has next to no story but bubbles with subtext underneath. My first thought when finishing the novel was that it was an average read, but my second thought was ‘how are they going to make an interesting and engaging film out of that?’ and having now seen the film the answer is ‘it can’t be done’.
Cronenberg’s direction is all over the place here and the film looks and feels like it’s based on a stage play; the non-stop talk and conversation might be acceptable on a stage where you’d pay for such entertainment but not on a cinema screen and certainly not with this material. Moreover, the film never feels like it has any direction from the start and it is a clear failure after only a short period has passed. None of the peripheral characters are given any substance or life on the screen, yet each have a lot to say for themselves but little of it is of any real interest. Robert Pattinson, as the lead character who spends the majority of his time inside a limousine, is watchable and one can understand him wanting to work with Cronenberg, but this material is beyond them both.
Ultimately, like American Psycho, what might be acceptable on the written page does not make for an entertaining adaptation and this must go down as one of Cronenberg’s weakest films.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★