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Cosmopolis (AF)


Stars: Robert Pattinson, Kevin Durand, Samantha Morton, Paul Giamatti, Juliette Binoche, Jay Baruchel, Mathieu Amalric

Director: David Cronenberg

Writer-director David Cronenberg’s oddball dramatisation of Don DeLillo’s satirical novel has polarized reviewers. Many critics appear to agree with Baruchel’s (admittedly deliberately taken out of context here) remark to Pattinson during the latter’s odd odyssey across Manhattan in his stretch limousine that ‘Cosmopolis’ is “halfway shallow and mostly unmemorable”.

For my money (and yes, against all principles of film reviewing, I would happily pay to see the picture) Cronenberg has made a fascinating and never predictable drama that charts billionaire Pattinson’s strange journey through the streets of Manhattan. Most of the action takes place in the interior of the limo, with patently obvious back projection adding to the overall strange otherworldly atmosphere of a story that gripped and intrigued me despite the lack of a conventional narrative. (I haven’t read DeLilo’s novel so my reactions are due to Cronenberg and his cast and not to any possible preconceptions).

It’s not an easy ‘simply-sit-back-in-your-seat-and watch' film. All kinds of strange things happen and while the limo setting (Pattinson does leave the car for a few scenes) might presage claustrophobia, it never happens. Cronenberg’s ingenious variations make sure that never happens as Pattinson plays host to business associates, friends and acquaintances and his wife Sarah Gadon on his journey. And, while we mere mortals have to make appointments and/or wait in a queue to see our doctors, Pattinson’s physician comes to him and, while the billionaire chats up a woman, gives him a highly intimate examination that climaxes in his informing his patient “Your prostrate is asymmetrical”.

Outside Pattinson’s ‘sealed’ environment, anti-capitalist protesters protest and a giant rodent puppet crawls on top of the limousine. Not every individual scene makes complete sense in itself but the accretion of mini-dramas ultimately adds up to a compelling, one-of-a-kind experience that confirms Pattinson as a good actor who, happily, has managed to escape from the magical juvenilia of Harry Potter and cute-as-a-button vampirism of the ‘Twilight’ epics.

Alan Frank

Canada/France 2012. UK Distributor: Entertainment One UK. Colour.
110 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 16 Jun 2012