When I realized that David Cronenberg’s latest film, Cosmopolis, was screening in London, I jumped at the chance at seeing a new film from one of my favourite filmmakers. That was two weeks ago, and it has taken me this long to get a handle on how I really felt about the film. In the end, it is a frustrating film from an often times frustrating filmmaker.
Many will see Cosmopolis, to find out what Twilight-alumni Robert Pattinson can do outside of the ridiculous franchise. However, this is probably not the best film to judge this young actor’s ability. Like almost all Cronenberg films, the acting is stylized and very particular. Pattinson is forced to be cold and calculated. And this is why the first half of the film is so frustrating and difficult. While everything is intentional on the part of Cronenberg’s direction, that does not forgive the first half of the film.
Pattinson plays a young billionaire, who spends the majority of the film travelling across New York in an effort to get a simple haircut. As he travels in his luxurious, futuristic limousine, he is visited by colleagues, employees, and friends–among other people. Each visit is fascinating in itself, however the connective tissue is simply not there. With each scene, you try desperately to grasp what they are really discussing and how each scene connects with each other. The problem is that after a while, you realize these discussions are both purposely impenetrable, and at times entirely meaningless.
Unsure of where it was heading, I found myself becoming increasingly impatient with the film. All this eventually led to a finale that is, luckily, classic Cronenberg. It may not entirely redeem the film, however the last half is simply brilliant. Once we leave that limousine for more than a detour, the film shines.
It is perfectly executed, and as intense as any of Cronenberg’s best scenes. It is also with the second half of the film that we can finally see how Pattinson does without the constraints of the emotionally-limiting first portion of the film. It is in this part of the movie that you discover why Cronenberg trusted the young actor, as Pattinson clearly has the same traits that Cronenberg favours when casting many of his bizarre leading men.
No matter how much sex and talented actors inhabit the first half of the film, it is still too obscure and distant to justify. That being said, Cosmopolis is not a total mess. It may be frustrating, but it still features one hell of a final act.
Among other things, Cosmopolis also proves that Pattinson is not the hollow, shell of an actor that the Twilight films have led us to believe. He is in fact a very talented actor, and if he can work with Cronenberg again, I am sure we will see yet another side of what could become a great partnership.