I had mixed thoughts entering Cosmopolis. The trailer had promise and I had won a double pass to see the film so I was at least a little excited. However, being directed by David Cronenberg, I was a bit dubious, as his last film (A Dangerous Method) was less than impressive, and in the past I've found a lot of his films to be underwhelming. Up until the 2000s Cronenberg had created himself a distinct style which I admired. Even though, as I said previously, his films tended to be underwhelming, I could still appreciate and recognise his achievement of a distinctly recognisable style. This was mostly to do with the atmosphere he created and his penchant for including uncomfortably fleshly elements within his films. However, post-2000 saw Cronenberg completely disregard these elements he'd built up over his career and seemingly start afresh. Bad move. What's left is just a bland form of storytelling with nothing unique or wondrous.
So, Cosmopolis. The film follows Eric Packer, an insanely rich and successful 28-year-old businessman, who travels across town in his limousine to get a haircut. His plans are constantly thwarted by protestors (the president is in town), regular pit-stops to visit his girlfriend and (presumably) friends who hitch a lift. This premise allows for a credible conversation film (a film whose merits come from philosophical conversation as opposed to riveting story progression or action), and it really could have excelled - had the film had anything notable to say. The film aims to make comment on contemporary capitalism, and at times it almost touches on some interesting ideas, but ultimately fails to get off the ground. Everything is there - the film boasts a capable cast (Juliette Binoche, Samantha Morton & Paul Giamatti), a good set up and a decent overall intention - it just never gives the audience anything deep or profound to work with, which leaves you with a rather shallow analysis of contemporary capitalism. So really, the major fallback of the film is its script, which is a shame.
A very dark, ominous atmosphere lurks over the film; a very unsettling feeling which is definitely to its merit. I'd certainly cite it as a throwback to Cronenberg's heyday, so kudos to him for bringing that back successfully. The music in the film was very minimal, basically non-existent at times, which I suppose may have added to the success of the atmosphere, however I really would have liked the music to have more presence. But perhaps this hope is due to the trailer, which had a very striking musical presence, and was one of the things that really caught my attention.
Overall the film was a bit disappointing. I'd say watch the trailer instead.
And some spoiler comments:
- What a terrible haircut. Honestly, it looked like he did it himself. In the dark. I could do a better job than that. In the dark. Why you'd travel so far for that is beyond me. I feel bad for Robert Pattinson having to wear that.
- What was with Paul Giamatti's talking toe fungus?! Just what.… However it did provide for some very amusing comic relief. So I guess that's a plus.