Woah, woah, woah, slow down, there! What on earth did you just say? What could that possibly mean? Why should I care at all?
Such are the questions that will inevitably be invoked by anyone watching David Cronenberg’s “Cosmopolis.” While a billionaire driving around the streets of New York in a limousine amidst massive social upheaval certainly packs a timely, relevant thematic punch, you can’t puzzle over the film’s deeper meaning because it’s so difficult to get past the first layer: the dialogue! I’ve even read another book by Don DeLillo, author of the novel “Cosmopolis” from which the film was adapted, and I found the way the characters talked to be absolutely infuriating.
Everyone speaks in non-sequiturs, and no one ever seems to say exactly what they mean or have any sense of urgency. At times, the dialogue even seems to delve into absurdism – where nothing relates to anything. The film’s structure, in addition, jumps from conversation to conversation with very little explanation. One second, Robert Pattinson’s Eric Packer is discussing the intricacies of global currency with Shiner (Jay Baruchel) … and then a quick cut to the next scene where he’s having sex with his art dealer (Juliette Binoche) – all in the limousine!
Cronenberg and DeLillo are absolutely allowed to present the story in whatever fashion or style they please, but they can hardly expect us to pore over the messages if the characters are practically speaking a foreign language. Did I need to be a Wall Street employee to understand the dialogue? I’d like to think I’m not a total idiot when it comes to the economy, yet just about every line dealing with finance baffled me.
The universe Cronenberg crafts seems to not only be void of logic but is also totally empty of personality. If I’ve learned anything from watching Martin Scorsese and Woody Allen movies, it’s that New York City is busting at the seams with life. Yet Cronenberg makes the flawed choice of shooting in Toronto, which makes for a poor substitute. ”Cosmopolis” surely would have benefitted from the presence of the city that never sleeps, because the script and the ensemble surely don’t give the movie much flavor.
The failure of the film’s other elements makes its star, Robert Pattinson, shine a little more brightly that he probably does in “Cosmopolis.” Though we can’t really understand much that Pattinson says beyond the fact that he has an enlarged prostate, we can still sense that he’s giving a performance that most people (including myself) might consider the tabloid icon incapable of delivering. As Eric Packer, he’s possessed and entranced in a very methodical way. I don’t care to rewatch “Cosmopolis” because I don’t want to deal with the clunky script again, but I’d certainly be interested in digging deeper into Pattinson’s tantalizingly bizarre performance.
I’m not the boy who cried “Oscar!” here, but I’m saying that if he so chooses, Pattinson could have a decent dramatic career post-”Twilight.” But unless you are a Pattinson die-hard, go ahead and wait for the movie where the full potential is reached. ”Cosmopolis” will merely aggravate while you bide your time. C /