Reviews

Cosmopolis

3

A Robert Pattinson movie to turn your hair white...

A hard-bodied hooker with a laser-sighted weapon. Robert Pattinson blasting a bloody hole through his left hand. A pounding nightclub. A man stabbed in the eye. A modified handcannon. Naked bodies. A giant rat prowling crowded city streets. Gunfire. Graffiti.

Tantalising images flash by in the teaser for Cosmopolis, indicating that director David Cronenberg is blazing back to his dark, florid psycho-horror heritage after the taut austerity of A Dangerous Method. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Not only is Cosmopolis more talky and less cinematic than Cronenberg’s previous drama, it might just be the weirdest movie of the year.

After an enigmatic opening credit sequence splashed with earthy streaks of paint, the first thing Cosmopolis shows us is a big close-up on the grinning front-grill of a white limousine. It’s definitely grinning at us. Because, as those splattery credits cheekily winked at, this is an art movie.

Cinema, they say, is the art of showing and not telling. Not according to Cronenberg. After a prowling opening shot, his camera barely moves. “Those aphoristic little ideas about cinema, that’s bullshit,” he declared after making A Dangerous Method. “To me, cinema is a face talking.”

And that’s Cosmopolis right there: talking, talking, talking. It’s the least commercial film he’s made in the last 10 years. Or maybe ever. Except for one thing. The face doing the talking has made more than $2 billion at the box office and causes teenage girls to instantly lose consciousness, sanity or both.

“I want more,” Robert Pattinson tells a prostitute armed with a taser, after a sex scene that sizzles hot enough to set Edward Cullen’s hair gel alight. “Show me something I haven’t seen before.” Well, exactly. How about the star of Twilight screwing Juliette Binoche in the back of a limo, pissing in said limo and even getting a prostate exam in the backseat?

Pattinson as a bored twentysomething on a personal odyssey to destroy what he has in search of an exciting, dangerous future? The more you think about it, the more it becomes perfect casting.

Pattinson plays Eric Packer, a billionaire travelling across Manhattan in a limo to get a haircut. One by one, a series of characters join him for lengthy, chewy, intriguing and sometimes indecipherable conversations that feel like brain synapses firing at random.

By the time the scissors come out, he’ll have lost his wife (the glacially beautiful Sarah Gadon, Jung’s wife in A Dangerous Method), been mobbed by angry protesters, been stalked by two very different pursuers, been ridden by two extremely hot women and committed startling acts of violence against himself and others. Mostly, though, he’ll have done an awful lot of chin-wagging.

Samantha Morton puts the modern world to rights (“The idea is time. Money makes time. It used to be the other way around”), Mathieu Amalric goes blond and beardy as an anarchistic protester and driver/bodyguard Kevin Durand (Little John in Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood) tries futilely to keep him out of trouble.

“Do you ever feel sometimes that you don’t know what’s going on?” asks Jay Baruchel, one of the first visitors to Packer’s limo. Well, get used to that feeling. Sex, death, money, power... It’s all here, somewhere.

But really, this is about a man tearing his world apart to see what’s there – and you get the feeling that’s exactly Pattinson’s game plan. Water For Elephants (beaten by Christoph Waltz’s henchmen) and Bel Ami (seduce-anddestroy in 19th-Century Paris) have hinted at his urge for darker roles, but Cosmopolis is a game-changer for him.

He’s distant, sardonic, nihilistic, enigmatic and very watchable. It’s intriguing to imagine how different it might have been with original lead Colin Farrell, a man with proven shadowy sexual charisma (Fright Night) and compact star power (Phone Booth).

But Cronenberg has helped lift another level of performance from Pattinson, who channels his vampiric blankness for deeper purposes and never disappears completely behind Packer’s black suit and shades.

Cinematographer Peter Suschitzky’s precise, clinical visuals put Pattinson under intense scrutiny. But he chews through the challenge of Cronenberg’s immensely literate script – lifted hand over hand from the prose in Don DeLillo’s dense, stylish novel – with real confidence.

Inside that white stretch limousine, we’re almost in black box theatre. It’s a soundproof, leather-seated cocoon fitted with computer screens where the outside world almost looks like back projection.

Although we exit the vehicle several times, it’s not until the final scene – where Packer’s mysterious attacker reveals himself – that Cronenberg starts subtly stretching the visuals.

At one point, the director’s clever framing has a character appearing to reach into Pattinson’s head. Looks like he found something.

Verdict:

Pattinson’s most daring performance yet. Which, true, isn’t saying much. But if he keeps raising his game in bold, weird movies like this, a new dawn could be breaking for R-Pattz.

Film Details

User Reviews

    • Murphy0806

      Jun 11th 2012, 13:33

      Ha ha. For anyone who hasn't read the book there are quite a few spoilers in there.

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    • skylaird

      Jun 12th 2012, 15:57

      Can't possibly be as weird as Naked Lunch, the only film I have ever walked out of. It hurt my brain...

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    • justme1

      Jun 14th 2012, 1:11

      in my humble opinion Crash was genius and shocking in the right way but definitely not for everyone's taste. hope you will enjoy Cosmopolis:) i liked the review, it's as interesting and professional as most reviews on this site. now i just have to see this must-see movie;)

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    • justme1

      Jun 14th 2012, 1:11

      5

      i forgot to rate it 5*

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    • FBGBorgo

      Jun 15th 2012, 11:47

      you got it all wrong, it's not a Hooker , its his security guard ,the Rat are the Banks within our failing economy , did you see the Movie because your analysis is incorrect. How can you write a review if you don't know what you are talking about. This reads like you scrambled piece of other reviews. Kind of sad because it's a fascinating complicated Story. Cronenberg brought this Book onto the big screen, word by word. You have to follow it closely , its not for the shallow minded. I hope you don't get paid because you do a crappy Job

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    • Boundy23

      Jun 17th 2012, 3:30

      I haven't seen the film yet - I'm sure it's great. However, I can't seem to get past the idea that Cronenberg thinks cinema is NOT the art of "showing and not telling" - but it's just a "head talking" (which is what I perceive to mean that the audience are simply fed the meaning of the film, without having to think for themselves and/or reaching different ideas). That is saying two things: that cinema nowadays is one-dimensional and the audience have dumbed down so much that they can't think for themselves and the second is that Cronenberg believes it's perfectly fine to create films like that and so will assimilate within that trend. I understand it is opinion, but I am quite surprised by it. I may have gotten the wrong end of the stick - but if the directors/producers of today do think that dumbing down their productions will be fulfilling with the art of cinema - then I would have to disagree. Apologies if I have misunderstood. Ironically, I thought this film looked good and do plan to see it!

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    • Siban1982

      Jun 19th 2012, 11:25

      1

      Never, ever, have I come so close to falling completely asleep in the cinema than with this pretentious, intellectual and totally uncinematic film. If "uncinematic" is in fact a word, I'm sure Cronenberg would be able to tell me if it is with a majorly long monologue that reveals nothing particular interesting, doesn't answer the question and in actual fact leads me to not really caring 10 seconds in or rather, being completely confused and wondering why I asked a question in the first place. My tiny, common little mind would imagine something like this works very well as a book or radio play but as a film, it simply doesn't hold any entertainment or interest visually. Some people are giving it 5 stars and then saying "loved it but have no idea what it was about" - need I say more... it's one of those.

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    • justme1

      Aug 13th 2012, 3:08

      oh,dear, everyone here has an idea. because this is Cronenberg and this is Pattinson! you just seem to be a fan of more..um less complicated movies. it's ok. my friend adores And The Ship Sails On of Fellini while i couldn't get though first ten minutes of the movie. so what? to each his own..

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