Cannes 2012 Review: David Cronenberg's 'Cosmopolis' with Pattinson
by Alex Billington
May 26, 2012
Before seeing this, I was considerably curious to see how filmmaker David Cronenberg (of A Dangerous Method most recently) would handle a philosophical character study about a billionaire taking a limo across New York City. Alas, I was let down to discover an overly-complex, dialogue-heavy exposé on how money corrupts that follows a rather cold, careless character who continually emphasizes his power over everyone below him, without any concern for that power. Cronenberg establishes an unique world (and the inside of a limo) for us to follow Robert Pattinson as billionaire Eric Packer in, but that's about all that's interesting.
Numerous films at this year's festival seem to deal with the societal and cultural struggle of money, and how the financial gaps in this world affect individuals living in these societies. Cosmopolis is another study of the corruption and power of money, as observed from the top down. And this time, it's about some 28 year old financial multi-billionaire (Pattinson) who seems more clueless and disconnected from this reality than the poor, battered, unemployed man who really wants to kill him, mostly out of the sheer size of that financial gap. Thankfully, the scenes where he ends up talking with this individual are some of the most interesting in it, but it takes too long to get there and by the time we reach that point, general interest is already waning.
While the film itself, on its surface, is indeed about a stretch limo slowly progressing across a very busy New York City, full of protests and of course plenty of traffic, it's oddly far too static. It moves along disjointedly, complete with awkward vignette moments rather than flowing scenes with segues, and none of it progresses Pattinson's character in any way. Instead, we continue to learn more about how hollow and absentminded this guy is, not helped much by Pattinson's equally wooden and slipshod performance. But maybe that's just what Pattinson is known for (and kind of good at) and some may enjoy his cold, calculated performance in Cosmopolis, befitting his over-exaggerated celebrity status in the real world. But I did not care for it at all.
Many of the problems with Cronenberg's Cosmopolis stem from its script and its brutally convoluted and absurdly-informational, "data-packed" dialogue. There are lots of big ideas, philosophies, concepts, theories (involving money, corruption & life) discussed throughout the film, which makes it intriguing to see, but it doesn't lead to any revelation or contain any poignant messages. By the end I had no care or concern for the character or his fate, and couldn't stop wondering if the windows in the limo were truly awful greenscreen or just tinted to look like terrible greenscreen. Another rather unfortunate let down for me from Cronenberg.
Alex's Cannes Rating: 5.5 out of 10