Cronenberg’s newest feature since last year’s A Dangerous Method finds him without Viggo Mortensen (the first in 7 years since they started their three-movie streak with A History of Violence) and instead features Robert Pattinson in the leading role. Although I’ve only seen one of those terrible Twilight movies I did have a small drop of hope that Pattinson might actually have some skill. Well after watching this movie I’m even more unsure. Pattinson is either brilliant in his role of a monotone twenty-something-year-old billionaire who seems unable to portray any human emotions or he’s just a bad actor (I’m leaning more towards the latter). Figuring that Cronenberg is a director I both respect and admire, I’d be inclined to believe that his direction of Pattinson is intentional, but I think this is one of Cronenberg’s experiments that ended up being a failure. Cosmopolis plays less like a movie and more like a visual essay written by Cronenberg (based on the novel by Don DeLillo) about the whole 99% occupy Wall Street movement. I wouldn’t have minded the strong political agenda in the movie if there was anything interesting that actually happened in the movie. The whole movie takes place over the course of a day in which the protagonist Eric Packer (Rob Pattinson) attempts to be driven across Manhattan to get a haircut. When I first heard about the movie I thought the plot sounded intriguing. While there are certain writers/directors who can make a compelling film in which the dialogue is so compelling that a lack of physical action goes unnoticed, Cronenberg is not one of them. Subtle dialogue is not his strong point and often comes off as pseudo-intellectual gibberish.
Besides Sarah Gadon’s role of Pattinson’s equally monotone and pretentious wife, every other actor appears in just one scene. Easily recognizable actors like Jay Baruchel, Juliette Binoche, and some other celebrities all pop in for one scene cameo’s which, to me, ended up being the most interesting parts of the movie (there’s one cameo in the end that may surprise some). Again, watching this movie is the equivalent of reading an essay written by David Cronenberg on the Occupy Wall Street movement. Cronenberg’s trademark ultra-violence is only in a brief couple of scenes, and hardly feels like a return to form like some people are saying. Check out the movie to see what he has to say about the issue, but look elsewhere if you’re interested in seeing something with a bit more action.
Cosmopolis opens in Philly area theaters today.