Wednesday, October 23, 2013


Based on the novel by Don DeLillo, Cosmopolis is the story of a young multi-billionaire whose desire to get a haircut has him going onto a very strange journey where he encounters various people and embark on things that are very unsettling. Written for the screen and directed by David Cronenberg, the film plays into the life of a young man in the span of 24 hours as he starts to lose touch with reality as the world around him becomes chaotic. Starring Robert Pattinson, Sarah Gadon, Paul Giamatti, Samantha Morton, Jay Baruchel, Kevin Durand, Mathieu Almaric, and Juliette Binoche. Cosmopolis is drab and overwrought film from David Cronenberg.

The film is a simple story about a young billionaire who is in his limo driving through the traffic-laden streets of New York City just wanting a haircut. Yet, a visit from the U.S. president, a rapper’s funeral procession, and protests concerning about the state of capitalism puts this young man in one hellish day as he self-destructs slowly as his fortune falls and his own personal life starts to fall apart. It’s a premise that could’ve been engaging and also compelling to explore a man’s self-destruction as it would be in the hands of someone as revered as David Cronenberg. Instead, it’s an overblown and soulless film that doesn’t really have anything to say. For most of the story’s two-acts, the film’s protagonist in Eric Parker (Robert Pattinson) spends his time in his lavish, state-of-the-art limo talking to various advisors, analysts, workers, and such about his dwindling fortune while stepping out to do a few activities and eat a few meals with his wife Elsie (Sarah Gadon).

The screenplay is often filled with this very stylized dialogue where everyone talks in a certain rhythm that goes on too fast and features themes about finances and capitalist theories that doesn’t make any sense. Even as some of the dialogue is so poor that it’s often spoke in a very robotic fashion that just sucks out the life of the story. In the course of the story, Parker sleeps with a few women who aren’t married to him while dealing with the fact that he’s got an asymmetrical prostate as he has a hard time figuring out a currency where protesters are targeting him. The third act does break away from the monotony of the story but only to the point that it gets messier where Parker finally gets his haircut while trying to find out who is trying to kill him as the result almost ends up being the same thing about capitalism, life, and all that where it gets repetitive and loses ground into whatever arguments that Parker is going after.

Cronenberg’s direction should’ve been interesting as he spends much of the film inside a limo where it’s very intimate but also claustrophobic to showcase the cold world that Parker lives in. Instead, the story that Cronenberg is telling doesn’t hold much ground where this mixture of chaos outside of the limo and Parker trying to cage himself in his limo doesn’t do anything as the constant talking just drags the film. The moments where the film leaves the limo and into a few places doesn’t really have Cronenberg do much other than create a few interesting compositions but the way he directs his actors really bogs the film down even more. Even as its climax where Parker leaves the limo to get his haircut and confront whoever is trying to kill him only makes things worse as the film ends on a very abrupt and hollow note. Overall, Cronenberg creates an excruciatingly dull and lifeless film that had something to say but ends up saying nothing at all.

Cinematographer Peter Suschitzsky does nice work with the cinematography to play into its look of the city as it‘s in chaos while editor Ronald Sanders does some good work in the editing though it does have a hard time to keep up with the very talkative dialogue while not doing enough to build up some suspense. Production designer Arvinder Grewal and art director Joshu de Cartier do excellent work with the look of the limos and places Parker goes to while costume designer Denise Cronenberg creates some wonderful dresses that Elsie wears.

Visual effects supervisor Wojciech Zielinski does some bad work in some of the film‘s visual effects that includes a backdrop for the shots outside of the limo. Sound editor Wayne Griffin and Michael O’Farrell do some fine work with the sound to play into the chaotic nature in the locations. The film’s music by Howard Shore is terrific as it is low-key with its emphasis on brooding electronic music that includes some contributions from the Canadian band Metric to provide some dark textures into the soundtrack.

The casting by Deirdre Bowen definitely has a great collection of actors where there’s a few noteworthy performances from George Touliatos as the barber Anthony and Abdul Ayoola as Packer’s driver where the two have a nice conversation about their old lives as cab drivers. Other notable performances from Patricia McKenzie as a bodyguard of Packer, Emily Hampshire as finance chief, Jay Baruchel as his friend Shiner, Kevin Durand as Packer’s main bodyguard Torval, and Philip Nozuka as his analyst don’t really get much to do as they’re bogged down by the film’s atrocious dialogue that just has them over-explaining things.

For a cast that includes such revered talents as Mathieu Almaric, Juliette Binoche, Paul Giamatti, and Samantha Morton, they are unfortunately wasted in this film. Giamatti plays a disgruntled, troubled ex-employee of Packer who just talks and talks while Almaric is just a guy who slams a pie into Packer. Morton doesn’t do anything but talk about numbers and such as if she was a robot while Binoche plays an art consultant who sleeps with Packer as she talks about money and art. Sarah Gadon is terrible as Packer’s young wife Elsie as she only appears in a few scenes as the scenes she have with Pattinson are included with some bad dialogue that’s made worse by the fact that they’re talking like robots. Finally, there’s Robert Pattinson in a performance that is unsurprisingly typical of what he’s known for as he’s just a bore to watch as well as the fact that he talks like a robot in some respects while often does a lot of blank stare to showcase that he is indeed a very bland and soulless young man who can’t act worth a shit.

Cosmopolis is a fucking travesty of a film from someone as brilliant as David Cronenberg. Thanks in part to Robert Pattinson’s horrendous performance as well as its un-engaging story and overwritten dialogue. It’s a film that should’ve said something about a man’s self-destruction in the wake of a capitalist protest but instead says nothing profound. Even as it ends up being a cinematic downward spiral of nothingness that goes further into a spiral of ever-more nothingness. In the end, Cosmpolis is a film that just absolutely fucking sucks.

David Cronenberg Films: Stereo - Crimes of the Future - Shivers - Rabid - Fast Company - The Brood - Scanners - Videodrome - The Dead Zone - The Fly (1986 film) - Dead Ringers - Naked Lunch - M. Butterfly - Crash - eXistenZ - Spider - A History of Violence - Eastern Promises - A Dangerous Method - Maps to the Stars - Crimes of the Future (2022 film)

The Auteurs #26: David Cronenberg: Pt. 1 - Pt. 2

© thevoid99 2013


Alex Withrow said...

Yes, yes, one thousand times yes. Your final paragraph had me rolling. This one had me baffled from minute one. A true travesty.

thevoid99 said...

I want to believe that another filmmaker did this film. What happened to Cronenberg? Did some creature get into his ear and fuck with his head or something?