Saturday, 21 July 2012

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - Cosmopolis

Directed by: David Cronenberg
Produced by: Paulo Branco
Renee Tab
David Cronenberg
Martin Katz
Screenplay by: David Cronenberg
Based on: Cosmopolis by Don DeLillo
Starring: Robert Pattinson
Paul Giamatti
Samantha Morton
Sarah Gadon
Matthieu Amalric
Juliette Binoche
Music by: Howard Shore
Cinematography by: Peter Suschitzky
Editing by: Ronald Sanders
Studio(s): Alfama Films
Prospero Pictures
Toronto Antenna
Distributed by: Entertainment One
Release date(s): May 25, 2012 (Cannes: Premiere)
June 8, 2012 (Canada)
June 15 2012 (
August 17, 2012 (United States)

Yes, I've been slow on the reviews front this month, but believe you me, I have been busy. Not only have I now seen this movie, I've also seen Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World (mouthful of a title) and The Dark Knight Rises. Others will be included, and I'm gonna try to do some reviewing and so one or two movies while I'm on holiday in Nice, so, as ever, keep your eyes posted!

So, this review right here (I don't say today because I'm planning on doing two reviews) is for Cosmopolis. The latest film by David Cronenberg, whose back catalogue I am in great admiration of, is an adaptation of Don DeLillo's novel of the same name. Robert Pattinson plays Eric Packer, a twenty-eight year old billionaire who insists, despite heavy traffic and numerous delays, to travel in his limousine across Manhattan to get a haircut. As mentioned, I am an admirer of Cronenberg's work, particularly that run of films in the 1980's from Scanner to Dead Ringers. Lately, he has taken doing a lot more 'real world' based films or literary adaptations, and as the first major Don DeLillo adaptation, this feature was of interest to me going in. I also had the pleasure of unwittingly going to a screening with an introduction by Marcus Smith and post-film discussion after at the Queen's Film Theatre. Surprises, though this is the exception rather than the rule, can be good sometimes!

Firstoff, I want to sing the praises of Robert Pattinson in the lead role. Replacing Colin Farrell, he fills his shoes efficiently, carrying enough natural swagger and charm. If anyone can do brooding well, it's Pattinson, and this is probably his best role to date. He's a lot more controlled than I've seen him in the past, and it seems that collaborating with Cronenberg has been of benefit to him. His delivery of Packer's lines is hypnotic, and listening to him talk about boring things is paradoxically one of the most interesting things the film has to offer. Paul Giamatti offers some valuable supporting chops, and Samantha Morton executes a terrific monologue. Also, the film is beautifully shot. I'm not normally a huge fan of digital photography, but Peter Suschitzky's work here is inventive and original. We get to see the inside of Packer's limousine from every possible angle, every nook and cranny covered. At its best moments, it is reminiscent of the tracking shots Stanley Kubrick used as a trademark in his films. Also, the clarity of the image is tremendous, making for a realistic but still artistic contrasting tonal palette. As a director, Cronenberg takes a meditative position and opts for a low-key adaptation. This is not a movie with a traditional nuts-and-bolts narrative, and credit where credit is due to Cronenberg for openly challenging his audience with the directions he takes with this movie. Finally, I mentioned how well-shot the limousine is, but it is also designed well. This limo is an extension of Packer, and the cold, cool intricacies of its design is a reflection of just how removed from the world he truly is. The whole mise-en-scene of the film, with the elegance of the costumes and such, create a body politic in Cosmopolis that, while lacking in the metaphorical machinations of blood and guts, is certainly present throughout.

Cosmopolis is an interesting, but quite troublesome beast, in that for what is good about it, there are numerous problems and flaws. Cronenberg succeeds as a director, but his script is a strange misfire. Now, I haven't read the DeLillo book, which he apparently is very faithful too, but frankly I don't need to in order to judge the film. Unfortunately, the film, while having its moments, is inconsistent, and a lot of the time just feels like a lot of borderline philosophical monologues mashed together. I have no problem being challenged, I mean I sat through The Turin Horse (and loved it!), but I felt quite bored in parts by this, and near fell asleep at one stage. I understand it is meant to be cold and brooding, but I did not feel consistently engaged because there is a structural flimsiness to it that regularly threatens to collapse. It didn't feel like an organic set of ideas made flesh, but some ugly, metallic, modernist construction. Furthermore, there are severely under-utilised actors, such as Juliette Binoche, who really should be playing more than a bit part. Also, the collaboration between Howard Shore and Metric doesn't quite work, as the clash of styles doesn't contrast appropriately. They both end up ruling out each other's contributions.

It has a screenplay that comprises of lots of bits mashed together in a flimsy narrative structure, the musical collaboration doesn't quite work, and there is a lack of characterisation for severely under-utilised actors. Despite these obvious flaws, I still find myself feeling (relatively) positive about Cosmopolis. Robert Pattinson is a strong and credible lead performer, who firmly anchors the film and its tone. It is a terrifically shot film by Peter Suschitzky, the overall mise-en-scene is well-established, and David Cronenberg, to his credit, continues to challenge his audience with the output from his artistic impulses.

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 6.2/10

The Thin White Dude's Self-Diagnosis - Very well (The Dark Knight Rises was thoroughly entertaining!)

P.S. Congratulations to the keyboard warriors of Rotten Tomatoes for getting themselves and everyone else on the website barred to comment on The Dark Knight Rises for making death threats against critics who negatively reviewed the film: "You have disgraced yourselves once again." Twats!

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