Here's one I was really looking forward to.
When you're a fan of David Cronenberg's stranger works, seeing him make relatively straight-forward films like History Of Violence or A Dangerous Method is always a bit disappointing. No matter how good those movies are, you just want the guy to go all out Videodrome-style, blow-up some heads or just put messed-up images in your head (the birth dream sequence from The Fly, anyone?). I guess the director's style had to mature at some point but personally, with the exception of Eastern Promises, I haven't truly been impressed by the director's work since eXistenZ.
And I still haven't.
Cosmopolis has received mixed reviews thusfar with some praising its daring, mostly limo-set plot and message, while others calling it "shallow" and "self-indulgent"... because it is.
Frankly, this is not a good movie.
And I don't say that because I didn't get it, quite the opposite, Cosmopolis just doesn't work. It has been called "unfilmable" and although I disagree with that, everything's filmable, this is just not how it should have been done. Cronenberg is a genius and I love the guy but this is a pretentious, cold, dull movie far too in love with the sound of its own voice. Characters never stop talking: they never shut the f*** up! And what they're saying isn't exactly mind-blowing or half as deep as it's trying to be, a scene involving Samantha Morton speaking her ass off to Robert Pattinson's rich dick is particularly dense and insufferable. Morton struggles to get some sort of American accent going and the way she says her lines feels about as natural as that big puppet rat you see at one point. It's like everyone's reading out their script from a teleprompter.
This is one of those surreal films in which everything symbolises something else. But unlike a movie like David Lynch's Eraserhead, the symbolism here is obvious and redundant. You really feel like you're watching some odd final year film school project.
The humour throughout is what really saves the movie from being a complete pile of overindulgence, you get a good bunch of Cronenbergian moments including a scene in which Pattinson gets his ass examined in the limo, numerous awkward prostate-related lines and a crazy lady holding rats and screaming. You just wish the director had thrown the script away and given us more of a visual experience because as quirky as setting a whole film in a limo sounds, it just comes off as forced and (shudder) "arty".
Show, don't tell.
And if you're gonna tell, tell something worthwhile.
The whole movie revolves around the economic crisis and how divided we are from those controlling the dough, Robert Pattinson gives yet another soporific performance as Eric Packer, the recluse billionaire with the limo. Man, Macaulay Culkin would have OWNED that role. The acting is patchy to say the least with only Kevin Durand and Paul Giamatti coming out of it looking good. It's just a shame you have to wait till the end of the movie to find some good acting, the final scene in which Giamatti's pissed-off ex-employee confronts Packer being by far the most emotionally charged and interesting.
Cosmopolis isn't a movie: it's a play. And not a very good one at that. As a film, with the green-screen behind and to the sides of the limo looking super fake, it just feels like a Sega CD FMV game in which people come into your limo and you point and click on their face to get them to talk for ages. And in a game: you usually skip that shit so imagine in a film, where you can't do anything! Torture. You don't care about the characters, you don't care about what they're saying, you don't care about what they're doing, where they're going... you just don't care! The twins in Dead Ringers were horrible people but you still felt for them, no matter how twisted they got. This is a film which should make us feel something as it's about an event which has affected us all, some of us in a very bad way, but instead we are lectured endlessly about things we already know and made to decrypt unchallenging symbolism. Shame.
Overall, I was no big fan of A Dangerous Method but Cosmopolis is WAY worse. It's the kind of film Jim Jarmusch makes and, like it or not, he makes them well, not like this. I wish I could say more good things about it but I don't want to make stuff up, this is a disappointment full stop.
Fingers crossed that Cronenberg's next one gets back to basics.