Cosmopolis (2012) Film Review, a movie directed by David Cronenberg and starring Robert Pattinson, Juliette Binoche, Sarah Gadon, Kevin Durand, Abdul Ayoola, Emily Hampshire, Samantha Morton, Zeljko Kecojevic, Jay Baruchel, Philip Nozuka, Mathieu Amalric, and Patricia McKenzie.
Cosmopolis opens with a shot showing the grill of a car. Not just a car, a limousine. It sits there, grinning, like shark’s teeth primed to bite, yet after ten minutes in, it’s clear this shark is merely a guppy. It does feel as though there is something lurking below the surface of circling dialogue and faux-artsy themes of anti-capitalism, but it never surfaces, and all that is left behind is the bloated carcass of a movie that probably should never have been made.
There is not much of a plot to the film and while in some cases this can work, here it only adds to the mess. It is filled to the brim with dialogue, almost as if Cronenberg used the actual novel itself as a screenplay. I appreciate when movies stick to the book as much as the next guy, realistically they are two entirely separate mediums. Rather than the heady monologues coming across as introspective, they are flat-out boring, and draw attention away from the intended message.
This Herculean (Cosmopolis is a Greek word…see what I did there?) task ends up ultimately falling on the actors. The performances were not awful, but it is difficult for any actor to carry that much weight. Eric Packer (Robert Pattinson) hums along as the lead but he is far from stellar. It feels as though he learned acting in Gepetto’s workshop. No one else in the film stands out, except for a terrible New York accent from George Touliatos. I can’t tell if it was on purpose, but if he meant to piss people off, the award goes to…
Some movies begin slow and due to the nature of exposition, the viewer is forced to sit and wait, collecting information that certainly will pay off after fleshing out the characters and main ideas (e.g. Lost in Translation). Cosmopolis is nearly impossible to sit through, causing me to consider walking out on it numerous times by the time it finally concluded. There are a few moments where it seems like the waiting pays off and then the film slips right back into its boring, pretentious dialogue that haunts and beleaguers it. The movie does have a thing or two to say but it struggles to get even a modicum of it across and there are much better ways to accomplish it.
Art does not need to be understood to be enjoyed. Although an aficionado may have more refined means to enjoy it, their response is no more valuable than the layman who grins back at the Mona Lisa. That feeling, that visceral reaction is the true intention and while Cosmopolis exists as a sort of art house movie, the only feeling it managed to evoke was grief over the wasted time I spent trying to watch an decipher this film. A movie that demands one’s full attention and deserves none, Cronenberg misses the mark by a mile.