I wouldn’t so much say that David Cronenberg is an acquired taste as I would say that he is a flavor all to himself. Cronenberg’s films tend to routinely cross the lines between the psychological and physical usually exploring people’s fears in body transformation. Jeff Goldblum in The Fly, James Woods in Videodrome, Jennifer Jason Leigh in ExistenZ all acted in Cronenberg films dealing with human alteration.
When Cronenberg is at his best (The Fly, The Dead Zone, Dead Ringers) he is able to dissolve fantastical stories with grotesque and off-setting visuals in the same glass of stirred plot points. When he is at his worst (M. Butterfly, Spider, Naked Lunch), he is unable to connect with audiences on intellectual levels that are confused and muddled alongside his audacious created worlds.
His latest effort is Cosmopolis which stars Robert Pattinson (Twilight) as a 28-year-old billionaire named Eric attempting to make it across the city in his personal limo in an attempt to get a haircut. Along the journey a parade of confidants and characters will spend time in the back seat with Eric as anarchy grips the Manhattan streets.
Advisors, friends, sexual partners and even a doctor join the ride at various points with Eric rarely leaving the comfort of the limousine except to meet with his new wife in an attempt to initiate sexual contact.
The odyssey includes the particular peril of a credible threat upon Eric’s life. A threat that will lead Eric to a personal singular voyage and a confrontation with an ex-employee with the life of the billionaire asset manager in the balance.
Written by David Cronenberg based on the Don DeLillo novel, Cosmopolis is easily Cronenberg’s most complex and talkative film to date. 80% of the film is spent in the back seat of the stretched vehicle with conversational rapid fire vomited onto the audience’s patience. The claustrophobia of the setting is further assisted by the over-the-top vernacular that is likely to leave audiences behind in a WTF state of confusion.
Robert Pattinson proves that he has some acting talent when not sparkling and climbing trees with Bella Swan on his back and the supporting cast which includes Paul Giamatti, Juliette Binoche and Samantha Morton are equally capable of rambling Cronenberg’s scripted prose.
But the abnormal situations that befound the even more peculiar lead are deep in theory and shallow at impact. Cronenberg maintains his consistent use of scenes that would make audiences uncomfortable with Eric having a conversation with a female advisor while having a prostate exam hunched over in the constrictive confines of the car. But these scenes are too few and too removed from a reality that disconnects from paying patrons.
By the time the final confrontation between Eric and Giamatti’s Benno Levin chews up the final two reels, most will feel lightheaded by the unstimulating world of cyber-capitalism that is discussed ad nausea.
Cronenberg fans will surely be left scratching their hairless craniums in referencing their viewing of this confused and highly unmarketable effort. It is a mixed jumble of intellectual language wrapped in a screenplay of boredom and pointless direction.