- Released: Thursday, 02 August 2012
- Runtime: 108 mins.
- Distributor: Icon Films.
It requires an initial commitment to stay to watch Cosmopolis, otherwise audiences might be making for the exit quick smart. The commitment is to David Cronenberg and his career and a film of talk and ideas rather than images and action.
Cronenberg has adapted a novel by Don de Lillo. The screenplay is wordy, often poetically wordy, often philosophically or existentially wordy. It often plays more like radio than cinema.
Cosmopolis is a big American city, a financial centre, a city the American president is visiting, a city of protest (which is where the main action sequences are found), a city of enterprise as well as resentment and violence.
For a great deal of the film, the existential tycoon hero is seated in his stretch limousine where underlings communicate with him, where he has a liaison (with Juliette Binoche), where he drives to have a haircut (in fact, only half) and then to answer a mysterious call from a man who wants to shoot him.
Some of the success of the film (or not) depends on response to Robert Pattinson in the central role. In the Twilight series, Pattinson is more of a passive presence and this is the case here. An enigma. He does initiate communication but his manner is more passive than active. Perhaps he is ultimately more of a victim than a hero, but when he comes alive in the final twenty minutes, dramatically playing off Paul Giamatti who makes a powerful impression as the disturbed and disgruntled gunman, he is more impressive.
While there are the action sequences, reminiscent of so many political protests, the action is more a succession of episodes where the mysterious millionaire who manipulates markets and currencies receives a succession of characters from bodyguard to chauffeur, from financial whizkids to women friends (though he does get out of the limousine to go to a diner with a woman friend).
The screenplay has a lot to say about our world, corporations, power and manipulation as well as existential topics of identity and meaning. One can read de Lillo and pause and reflect. Cosmopolis doesn’t always afford that kind of space which means leaving the cinema more puzzled than satisfied.