Review: Cosmopolis

“Do you ever get the feeling that you don’t understand?”, a young business associate asks Robert Pattinson’s sultry billionaire, in the opening of David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis. A point that may have rung true with the eleven people that walked out of a recent multiplex screening of the film. Cosmopolis is a highly misleading, darkly satirical film that captures the fears of the Capitalist world.
Eric Parker (Robert Pattinson), a twenty-eight year old businessman travels around Manhattan in his stretch limo, with the aim of getting a hair cut. He is joined by several people throughout his journey as riots and protests break out across the city.

Cosmopolis is a highly misleading film, from trailer, promotion and even it’s casting suggest it to be a blend of action/sci-fi/drama. It is not. It is a challenging film with several interesting statements about today’s Capitalist society. We should be challenged by these issues that Cronenberg raises, but they are handled in such a rather tedious fashion (for the most part) that it is a challenge to engage. Some particularly droll conversations, which are mostly held in the setting of Parker’s limo. Fortunately, Cronenberg does managed to capture the vapid, claustrophobic nature of society through these scenes, as well as his showcasing his ability to generate tension from the occasional, understandable fragment of dialogue.

The dialogue is possibly the main issue with Cosmopolis – consisting of characters not having conversations, but simply making jargon filled, standalone statements to each other in monotone. I do realise that these conversations are meant to reflect the information-overload and endless stream of self-focused, useless data (courtesy of the social networking world) but surely there are more interesting ways to reflect this.

When I did find myself breaking through the barriers of Cronenberg’s dialogue in Cosmopolis an eerie thought-provoking satire lies underneath. This is aided by appearances from the likes of Juliette Binoche and Matthieu Almaric whose characters both raise some challenging points. The unrest of our world is captured through political protesters, clinging to dead rats – launching an attack on the capitalist state. Seeing Parker’s lack of reaction as his limo is destroyed whilst traveling through an aggressive section of protesters makes a cold statement about the relationship between those in our society.

Pattinson’s performance is truly gripping. He captures a cold, shallow existence balanced against a thematic backdrop of the damaging power of wealth. Even sequences where the young businessman receives a prostate exam in the back of his limo (hello), the actor remains credible.

Cosmopolis is dark film, with moments of eerie sociological satire presented in a sporadically tense, claustrophobic fashion by Cronenberg. Unfortunately, the staging and dialogue can lead to Cosmopolis becoming somewhat unengaging, even if this may be intentional in Cronenberg’s statement on contemporary society. Regardless of this Pattinson’s performance is still remarkably impressive.


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