As a Cronenberg fan, especially of his last few efforts, I really wanted to like COSMOPOLIS. An entire movie centered on a complex character driving around in his limousine, though high-concept and risky, sounded like something this director could work in to a potentially fascinating film. But it was not meant to be.
COSMOPOLIS is a study in economics and philosophy wrapped up in a tale of personal collapse. Robert Pattinson's Eric Packer meets a variety of unique characters on his downward spiral, surviving assassination attempts and discussing everything from capitalism to sex to power to human connection –and it doesn't amount to much of anything. The dialogue is well-written, clearly lifted almost verbatim from Don DeLillo's original novel, but the constant talking in broad existential strokes is so tedious it borders on unbearable.
I think Robert Pattinson has more talent and range as an actor than the TWILIGHT movies suggest, but he's a little out of his element anchoring a movie like this. The script does him no favors, honestly, writing Packer as a detached, pitiless, soul-sucker of a businessman. There are layers of empathy hidden deep, deep down but Pattinson can't land a character this complex. It also doesn't help that the supporting cast are much more natural and interesting. Paul Giamatti, Samantha Morton, Juliette Binoche and Jay Baruchel each have essentially one scene to cameo in, but they leave a more substantial impression than the film's lead. The final square off with Giamatti, in particular, is fun and fascinating to watch for the performances, but the veteran thespian acts such big circles around Pattinson it's not even funny.
Even though it's not the most fun watch, COSMOPOLIS does have some Cronenbergian qualities that kept me from outright turning it off. The director uses greenscreen outside of the limo to create a dream-like state that serves the story well and provides some interesting visuals. And there's so many strange tangents to the twisty, offbeat narrative that are vintage Cronenberg. If you're a huge fan of the man's work, it might be worth checking out just for the sake of completion. Otherwise, COSMOPOLIS is not worth the ride.
Citizens of Cosmopolis (1:50:21): This fantastic Making Of feature is longer than the movie itself and more importantly worth watching. Cronenberg (and interviews with other cast/crew) leads you through the whole thing, from explaining the origin of the film and DeLillo's original novel to shooting a movie with Rob Pattinson's celebrity status. Seeing the master filmmaker work uninhibited on the set is fun and a treat for any film fan.
Cast and Crew Interviews (27:06): Even more supplemental chats with director, producers and stars than those found in the Making Of, covering a wide range of topics.
There's not much in COSMOPOLIS for the average moviegoer, even if you like A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE or EASTERN PROMISES. If you're a big Cronenberg (or Pattinson) completest than maybe worth a rental.
Extra Tidbit: Colin Farrell turned down the lead role in this for the TOTAL RECALL remake.