Monday, September 3, 2012

Review: Cosmopolis


Cosmopolis is a rare kind of movie, a very difficult to review movie. It’s a movie so surreal, so strange and offbeat in it’s characters and presentation that at the end I was surprised it was to be reminded that it wasn’t directed by David Lynch. The movie as a whole is confusing and dark, a movie that most film goers (and in particular the lead actor’s fans from Twilight) will feel alienated by.

So naturally, I loved it to pieces. It’s presentation is just the perfect kind of surreal and strange to appeal to me and my sensibilities (I must remind you that I count David Lynch as one of my inspirations). It’s definitely one of the most surreal movie Cronenberg has made since Videodrome, but it all works, into one of my favorite movies of the year thus far. But while I loved it, I can’t recommend it without reservation, as a lot of people are going to hate it.

For the record, the plot is about Eric Packer (Robert Pattinson), a rich ,detached and self-destructive billionaire living in a near-future New York City, who is traveling across New York to get a haircut. And…that’s more or less it. There are some lingering plot bits about a currency crisis, a violent anti-capitalist group and someone planning to kill Eric, but those mostly hang around the edges.

This is one of the major ways a lot of people are going to feel alienated by this movie: There’s very little in the way of plot. The vast majority of the movie consists of Eric meeting with various people, from his equally detached new wife who refuses to have sex with him, to his doctor who gives him a checkup right in the limo, and having detached conversations with them. It feels very cold, and almost didactic, as the characters and their actions don’t seem to have any connection to human behavior.

The script is probably the strangest thing about it. The dialogue is rapid, highly technical and veers between philosophy, economics and in-character dialogue so rapidly that it threatens to give you whiplash. As you might have guessed from the plot description, there is an essential lack of any linear narrative or even more than the barest amount of a story.

The acting fits with the movie: Cold and detached. Pattinson comes close to redeeming his time with the Twilight franchise in this movie. His natural cold and  emotionless affect is exactly what this movie needs and it shows that in the hands of the right director, he could be a good talent and if nothing else, he’ll be good at playing villains and psychopaths down the line in his career. Aside from him, no one gets more than a handful of scenes, but they all do very well, keeping the movie’s tone consistent, but special mention must go Paul Giamatti, proving once again he’s good in everything.

None of this would work without Cronenberg at the helm. His direction is so distant, it’s almost clinical, emphasizing the lack of emotion, but it also manages to be precise and interesting. The camera holds in one-to-two person shots for a long time and repeats similar angles, in a way that sounds boring, but manages to emphasize the characters and the world they live in.

Cosmopolis is not a movie for everyone. A lot, and I mean a lot, of people are going to hate it. It’s less a fully formed story than it is an experience, something you immerse yourself in and think about for days or weeks later. But, if you’ve ever liked the works of David Lynch, in particular Mullholland Drive, or some of Cronenberg’s early more surreal work, then you’ll probably like this one. If nothing else, it’s going to be one of the most divisive movies of the year, so if any of this sounds like something you want to see, give it a look. And if it helps, I loved it.

Elessar is a 22 year old Alaskan born cinephile and he’s probably gonna have to see this a couple more times before he fully absorbs it.

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