Review: Cosmopolis

In David Cronenberg's adaptation of Don DeLillo's novel Cosmopolis, Manhattan billionaire Eric Packer (Robert Pattinson) finds his attempt to get a haircut from his father's old barber complicated by a presidential motorcade, a violent uprising, and a funeral procession for a famous hip-hop star. Meanwhile, the wealthy 28-year-old's vast fortune hinges on his assessment of the yuan, which he continually monitors from the comfort of his stretch limo. Whether it's a result of Cronenberg's unusually direct approach, the fact that the story has as much momentum as the traffic jam that hinders Eric's obsessive quest, or the realization that endless ramblings by uninteresting characters just don't make for very good cinema, Cosmopolis comes off as a clumsy, tedious, and woefully heavy-handed strike at the heart of capitalism, and displays precious little of the morbid nuance that the director has so effectively nurtured over the past four decades.

There's a troubling tendency among some critics and moviegoers to assume that just because we have stumbled into the light scratching our heads after a film that surely we must have just witnessed a piece of art so intellectually superior that we, the humble consumers, are merely too thick to "get it." In the case of directors such as Cronenberg, it's only natural that we'd want to give them the benefit of the doubt. Since the beginning, he has excelled at using abstract concepts and images to confront social trends that alter the ways we live and communicate. But in Cosmopolis -- a ponderous mess of philosophical musings related to the Occupy movement and intrinsically tied to an asymmetrical colon -- he allows concept to take precedence over execution, and misses a major opportunity to address prescient issues effectively. He's got plenty to say, but he chooses to convey his message in a way that's so completely disengaging our eyes start to glaze over as the intended criticism of capitalism run amok gets lost in the ether. So vapid and excruciatingly long-winded is Cronenberg's critique of the so-called "One Percenters" that we have little choice but to shrink away and tune out. Read More... 


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