Starting to really take becoming a serious actor seriously, Robert Pattinson joins acclaimed filmmaking veteran David Cronenberg in this meditative exploration of the depths of class and the struggles within the modern business industry and financial conditions... or at least I think what these people are going on and on about, so I reckon that means that this film's ultimately being so underwhelming is even more disappointing than I thought. Granted, this film isn't as bad as quite a couple of people say, but man, Rob Pattinson just cannot catch a break, and considering that his girlfriend is having an affair with another English dude, he probably really needed this. Pattinson certain didn't need this film for financial reasons, because, say what you will about "Twilight", it's given Pattinson enough money to afford to travel to the finest barber in all of France. I can think of quite a few people who would say that such a trip would actually provide an excuse for Pattinson's limo for taking so long to get to a barbershop, but come on, people, we're talking about Manhattan traffic and a trip across town, so the Eric Packer's character actually getting to the barber at all would be most farfetched, especially considering that Pattinson doesn't appear to actually want a haircut in real life. It's hard for me to feel sorry for the Eric Packer character, even with his going on and on about how he's losing power, because he's actually on his way to have a haircut, the source of Robert Pattinson's power, or at least that's my attempt at giving Pattinson a reason for his hair being such a mess. I joke, but Pattinson's got a pretty slick do in this film, so I don't really know why exactly he's going to get a haircut in the first place, but then again, I don't really understand half of the weird, critic-targeted junk in this film. That being said, while this film is nothing short of messier than Pattinson's hair usually is, the final product is actually better than I feared, and yet, make no mistake, this film is messy something fierce, or at least when something actually happens.
I've heard this film described as having little, if any narrative structure, and considering that David Cronenberg can dull out something fierce at times, I expected the worst, but really, one of the biggest reliefs I had with this film is the film's turning out to not be a meditative lyrical piece, like something along the lines of the exceedingly mediocre "Hunger", or the just plain terrible "Gomorrah", and yet, with that being said, while this film actually isn't the incarnation of tedium that I heard it was, this is still David Cronenberg we're talking about, so of coruse the film gets to be too meditative and slow for its own good, limping along ever so blandly. As I'll touch more upon later, the film has a certain amount of intrigue to it that keeps it going, and sometimes even makes it moderately entertaining, yet the film has plenty of slowness to spare, so you know that it's saying quite a bit to say that slowness is the least of this film's problem, with Cronenberg's script being the film's messiest misstep. Characterization is problematic, as there's not as much flesh-out as there should be to the characters, who are made even more problematic by questionable behavior, as well as the dialogue, for although the immense amount of snap to the dialogue actually helps in making this film as decent as it is, there come many points in which the dialogue gets too snappy for its own good, descending into difficult to buy levels of exhaustingly rather pompous over-sophistication, if not all-out strange poeticism. The level of total buyability within the dialogue is rather uneven, yet not as uneven as the film's thematic depths, which are hurt from the get-go by convolusion, and find themselves further damaged by the occasions in which realist sophistication within the theme deliveries is abandoned by the sake of imagery and story elements that are almost surrealistically over-the-top. Whether it be the weird rat rallies that reference the "a rat became the unit of currency" excerpt from Zbigniew Herbert's "Report from the Besieged City", or some dude who goes around throwing cream pies in the faces of figures of high stature and whose segment finds itself ever so bizarrely drenched in a serious tone, there are quite a few thematic aspects that are too overbearing to be subtle, which isn't to say that the limited subtlety ends with the imagery, for although this film certainly isn't broadly literal, it's an abstract piece with only so much subtlety, presenting philosophical depths that go tainted by so much overambition that the points in which the film leaves you to actually think go obscured. Still, no matter how much this film goes plagued by its overambition and occasions in which it ventures well over the top, David Cronenberg still taints the film with an air of arrogance that may not be so potent that frustrates you to no end and destroys this film, like it has with the overly meditative lyrical pieces that I feared this film was going to be, yet stands pronounced enough for the film to reek of self-pride that only brings more to attention the areas in which Cronenberg lets down his ambition, exacerbating the blandness that isn't as severe with this film as quite a few people say, but ultimately leaves this film to fall quite a ways behind when it comes to fulfilling potential. Of course, I'd be lying if I said that I didn't ultimately enjoy this film, for although I recognize that this film is not much more than mere critic bait that would have been much better if it didn't expect itself to be much better than it actually is, there are indeed aspects that back up this film's ambitions, particularly the stylistic ones.
A tightly scoped dialogue that often takes place in areas no larger than the back of a limo that may admittedly be awesomely expansive, yet remains the back of a limo nevertheless, this film leaves little room for Peter Suschitzky's full artistic tastes, yet that doesn't stop Suschitzky from delivering on cinematography that plays with as much scope as it can ever so cleverly, neatly, if not rather surrealistically delivering on slick shots that don't simply catch your eye, but immerse you in this environment, and on the occasions in which the photography actually finds an environment suited for the playing up of color and lighting, the film gets to looking pretty darn good. Stylistically, the film isn't too unique, yet remains pretty commendable, and when it comes to substance, the film slips up time and again, with bland unsubtlety and a bit of arrogance, yet not so much so that the bite of the story is rendered totally toothless, for although this story is so messily structured, partially because there's little structure to it to begin with, it's actually reasonably original, not so much so that it's all that much like nothing that you've ever seen, yet ultimately enough so to create a degree of immediate intrigue, made all the stronger by what David Cronenberg does, in fact, do right, at least as writer. Now, when I say that this film is dialogue-driven, I'm not kidding, so of course Don DeLillo had to have packed the original source material - which, in and of itself, was weakly recieved for a Don DeLillo novel - with much of the dialogue - both commendable and problematic - heard here, but rather they be by DeLillo or Cronenberg, the dialogue pieces that drive this film are actually kind of neat, or at least more often than not, because, make no bones about it, the dialogue gets to be too snappy for its own good. Still, the fact of the matter is that this dialogue is snappy, boasting about as much hardly relatable pompousness as enjoyable sophistication, but quite a bit enjoyable sophistication, nevertheless, that livens up the film's meditative intrigue and supplements the thematic depth that is so often so messily handled directorially that it falls flat, but not so much so that there aren't occasions in which the film does, in fact, present an aspect through all of the messy unsubtlety and convolution that leaves you with something to think about. The film is reliant on all kinds of ramblings, exposition and other various talkery, and all too often, that doesn't work, yet more often than expected, the dialogue is colorful enough to keep things livened up, if not, on a few occasions, - dare I say it? - kind of entertaining, thus the film is kept from plummeting into total mediocrity, let alone disaster, and the performers behind the dialogue help, or at least some of them, for although you can expect material to generally be so lacking that more than a few performances come out as kind of medicore, as well as for Juliette Binoche to seem as though she couldn't hold on to an American accent if it was trying to pull her from the edge of a cliff, and for Sarah Gadon to actually prove pretty shoddy, with a profound lack of presence and expressiveness, and shakiness in her line delivery, I found quite a few key players to be kind of charismatic, and when Paul Giamatti finally arrives in the final act, he steals the show as one of the best supporting performances thus far this year, delivering on a striking, if not engrossing range and intensity in his emotion, expressions and overall presence that effortlessly defines the Benno Levin character as a mysterious and tortured soul. If nothing else, Giamatti's performance makes the final act - or at least everything in the final act up until the eye-roll-worthy non-ending - the relatively considerable high point that it is, but Giamatti shows up fashionably late, thus nearly the entirety of the film truly rests upon the shoulders of Robert Pattinson, someone who I've actually considered for quite some time to be an actually pretty promising talent, so much so that one of the reasons why I was initially looking foward to this film was because I was eager to see what Pattinson would do with a critic-targeting dramatic character piece, so you can imagine my disappointment in finding that Pattinson really is given ever so little to do. That being said, regardless of what many people say, Pattinson is rather, to me at least, charismatic, confidently embodying the stature of a man as sophisticated and powerful as the Eric Packer character, and when it comes time for material - no matter how limited - to arrive, Pattinson subtly layers Packer enough to grace our lead with some kind of mystery that supplements what intrigue there is in the film, and further shows the potential within Pattinson, who remains in desperate need of more material and, certainly, a more respectable film, but still flaunt enough of his potential to keep the film going, though not enough for the film to be redeemed of its missteps, for although there is actually a fair bit to compliment about this film, the final product slips up in way too many areas, failing to be the rewarding effort that some critics claim it to be, though not to where it's the disaster that many others claim it to be, having enough going for it to keep the patient going, even if it fails to be all that rewarding.
When the ride finally, finally ends, the film is left flat, with many an overly meditative slow spell to make all the worse a problematic screenplay with flawed characterization and occasions of near-laughable strangeness that supplement the thematic depth's being uneven, yet still at least consistent in convolution and limited subtlety, though not at the expense of a moderate degree of self-congradulatory arrogance that intensifies the blandness that renders the final product all too improvable, though hardly a disaster, for although this film is not what it fancies itself, let alone what it should be, it boasts nifty stylistic touches, as well as a story with a reasonable degree of originality that creates mild immediate intrigue, expanded by what occasions of effectiveness there are within the sometimes problematic but generally colorful dialogue, as well as by a few charismatic performances, particularly that of the underwritten yet still promising Robert Pattinson, thus leaving "Cosmopolis" to cruise along as a, for the patient, reasonably interesting dramatic piece, even if it does fall short of potential quite tremendously.
2.5/5 - Fair