The Movie Waffler New Release Review - Cosmopolis | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - Cosmopolis

Directed by: David Cronenberg
Starring: Robert Pattinson, Juliette Binoche, Sarah Gadon, Mathieu Amalric, Jay Baruchel, Samantha Morton, Paul Giamatti

Billionaire Pattinson insists on being driven across a nightmarish Manhattan to receive a haircut from his regular barber.

Five minutes into Cronenberg's latest I began to have horrific flashbacks to my schooldays. This might be adapted from a Don DeLillo novel but it's protagonist's journey across a re-imagined city is straight out of that staple of the literary chancer's bookshelf, James Joyce's Ulysses, itself a retelling of Homer's Odyssey. The Coen Brother's did this ten years ago with "O Brother Where Art Thou?" which at least had a few good songs to keep you awake. "Cosmopolis" offers no such compensation.
The script, adapted by Cronenberg himself, should have been immolated on completion. With constant dialogue it feels more like an adaptation of a stage play than a novel. It's hard to convey just how painful it is to listen to the series of quasi-leftist monologues delivered by a fantastic cast who are made to look like fools. Quality actors like Binoche, Morton and Giamatti pop in and out like guests on some hellish chat show hosted by a mid-coitus coupling of Noam Chomsky and Naomi Klein. 
Everyone speaks in a purposely stilted manner with more pregnant pauses than a relay race for expectant mothers. Not being a teenage girl, I've never seen Pattinson on screen before and I'm not going to judge him on this performance. His New York accent is perfect but like the rest of the cast he's hampered by Cronenberg's direction. I realise of course this is all meant to illustrate how inhuman and disconnected from reality these characters are but it doesn't make it remotely watchable. The only scene which didn't make me want to tear my ears off involved the barber, the one character who doesn't speak like a character from a fringe theater production. 
Cronenberg's career seems to have deteriorated into pretension. While his early works cleverly used the horror genre to communicate a subtext, now he feels he no longer needs to disguise his message. For this reason his films, like his audience, are suffering.