September 2, 2012

Movie Review: Cosmopolis

David Cronenberg has crafted some amazing films per the years. Just look at the likes of Videodrome and Naked Lunch, or even Scanners, The Fly, and The Brood, and don't forget recent critical favorites like A History of Violence and Eastern Promises. He has even appeared in some fan favorites over the years like Nightbreed and Jason X. However, for as fascinating a filmmaker as he is, there is the occasional film that I cannot crack. It is not that I am all that smart, but the movie in question is an egg I cannot crack.

Cosmopolis is a movie that could be called flawless in its direction, there really is no denying it. The problem is that what is being directed is something that my mind refuses to understand. I am actually not sure if it is meant to be understood. The basic thrust of the characters is easy enough to follow, it is all the stuff in between and what it is supposed to mean that escapes me. I certainly admire the craft, but I cannot get into the end result.

As the tale begins we are introduced to Eric Packer (Robert Pattinson). He is a billionaire asset manager and we meet him standing outside what is presumably his office building. He stands with his personal guard (Kevin Durand) and says in an emotionless, matter of fact fashion: "We need a haircut." This will require a trip across town. A trip that is not advised, as the city is in a state of gridlock caused by a visit by the President, a funeral for a rapper, and anarchist riots. Sounds perfect to me.

There you have the thrust of the story. Packer gets into his impossibly long limousine. Outfitted with all manner of screens and pads ad technology ticking away transaction information. Along the way to the barbershop, Packer has meetings with consultants, his mistress, a doctor (who does a full exam, even informing him of an irregularly shaped prostate), and even has sex multiple times. Not only that, he even has not just breakfast but lunch with his new wife, not to mention meeting her later at a bookstore.

All of the character interactions are handled in a dry, emotionless manner using dialogue that I have to wonder of they know what they are talking about. They speak in theoretical fashion, cold and clinical. Frankly, it means nothing to me. I gather that Packer is loosing money fast and furious, there are security concerns and a threat on his life, his marriage is not sawed on love, and he spends a lot of time in the limo.

Most of the film takes place inside the limo. It s strange how he manages to have all these meetings, including the medical checkup, within the confines of the vehicle. How do they all find him? How does he manage to keep finding his wife? And how does he manage to be found by the guy at the end (Paul Giamatti), much less find him inside the warehouse?

The plot is ultimately pointless, which just may be the point. The dialogue would seem to point at the disparity between classes, the haves and have nots, the rich and he poor, the way you can be of the wealth, yet detached from what having the wealth means or how it affects everyone else. I don't know, it is just too clinical and cold to really care about it, but at least they found a place to put Pattinson's emotionless acting to effective use.

I love the style of the film. This clearly a Cronenberg film. He uses all manner of interesting angles and uses space to great effect. With most of the movie taking place inside a limousine, he does a great job of never feeling crowded. It really is a slick design and Cronenberg shoots it wonderfully.

Simply put, it is worth watching for the way it is shot and the way everything moves, but it is not worth watching because the dialogue is dry and obtuse. It is definitely worth sitting down with once, but so far as revisiting it goes, I do not see it in the cards.

Mildly Recommended.

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