Robert Pattinson is one of the highest-profile actors on the globe. It’s nothing to do with his onscreen talent – it’s (in the main) down to the fact he’s part of the behemoth that is the Twilight franchise. However. with that part of his career now coming to a close, the UK actor is looking for a change of direction which has seen him surprise many by getting top-billing in David Cronenberg’s latest feature, Cosmopolis.
The story of an uber-rich asset manager – Eric Packer (Pattinson) – who travels across Manhattan in his stretch limo in the quest to get a haircut, meeting a raft of characters who all play a part in his demise.
Covering such topics as the fall of capitalism, currency and philosophy, it’s no understatement to describe Cosmopolis as dialogue heavy. Unfortunately, much of the script is so tedious and unbelievable that it becomes increasingly difficult to engage with any of the characters – bar two (which will be mentioned in due course). The likes of Juliet Binoche, Jay Baruchel and Sarah Gadon attempt to throw themselves into the roles they’re given, but the characters are so one-dimensional that they only grate on your nerves as they roll out pretentious lines that no-one would ever speak.
As the streets of Manhattan become increasingly dangerous – with rioters targeting Packer’s limo and repeated mention of rats becoming currency – it becomes apparent that Eric’s life is in danger, but from whom? That isn’t important. With such an impressive cast – and a head-fuck of a trailer – Cronenberg’s faithful adaptation of Don DeLillo’s turgid book fails in a lot of aspects.
An almost ethereal aesthetic never really does anything. The dreamlike quality of Cosmopolis gives way to boredom and drama that fails to raise the pulse – even when scenes of violence and disorder become the focus. It was always going to be a hard sell for Cronenberg to get everyone on board a film where the majority of the action takes place within the confines of a limousine – and it’s not helped by a narrative and script that is a top heavy with financial talk. The final 20 minutes involve a brilliant exchange between Pattinson and Paul Giamatti – and it says a lot for what has come before this sequence that Giamatti is a standout despite such a late arrival to proceedings.
While Cosmopolis is certainly an apt film for the current climate – financial meltdown in countries across the globe, people taking to the streets to protest about the rich getting richer while the poor suffer from their mis-steps – it’s a glaring misfire from a director who is renowned for pushing the envelope. As a film, Cosmopolis struggles to get going and, ultimately, doesn’t live up to the promise and as a vehicle for Pattinson to show off his acting chops, it succeeds incredibly well.
Going from the teen-angst dross that was Twilight to this can never be easy, but R-Patz manages it seamlessly and provides an astonishing performance that covers cocky, sexual and vulnerable all over the course of 108 minutes. It’s just a shame he – and Giamatti – are left to carry a film that collapses under the weight of its own pretentiousness.
Cosmpolis is released in UK cinemas on Friday.