Those hoping for a return to the Cronenberg of yore, with all sorts of body horror and associated extra orifices will be disappointed by his newest release, Cosmopolis, which is more dull than anything else.

Gazillionaire Eric Packer (Robert Pattinson) is comfortably ensconced in the back of his limousine as it makes its way across New York. He has everything he needs here – even his associates come to the car for meetings – and on an apparent whim he decides to get a haircut, despite growing safety concerns from the world outside.Cosmopolis The film spends most of its running time inside the car, and is quite episodic in nature. Generally speaking, each scene features a different character in conversation with Eric, talking in a frustratingly oblique fashion about life, capitalism or the state of the world.

That description of the conversations may sound broad, but that truly is the nature of the dialogue in Cosmopolis. There are recurring themes and topics, sure, but for the most part it’s Eric et al talking about stuff of very little interest. There isn’t any sense of urgency (or of any narrative destination at all, really) present in the film and the pacing feels languid at best.

Worst of all, Pattinson simply isn’t up to the task. I was fully prepared to believe that he’s a much better actor than the Twilight films would have you believe (as indeed Kristen Stewart is on occasion), but if that’s the case then he doesn’t prove it here. Cosmopolis needed a magnetic central performance to keep it all together; Pattinson regularly sounds like he’s merely reciting the lines of a script and relying on nothing more than a steely gaze to get his point across. There are some fantastic bit players that pop up throughout, to varying degrees of success. One of my favourites, Samantha Morton, makes very little impression, whereas the screen lights up when Paul Giamatti enters the frame. To be fair, such skilled performers eke a better performance out of Pattinson, but it’s not enough to save the film.

Rather like a play featuring characters you care nothing about, Cosmopolis is self-indulgent and tedious. The original trailer for the film hinted at some old school Cronenberg excess, but that never really eventuates. It’s a subtle film, and I mean that in a bad way. If you’re a diehard Cronenberg fan, you may wish to give this a look, but otherwise there’s not much to recommend.

Rating: 1.5 stars
Review by Stuart Wilson, 4th August 2012
Hoopla Factor: 1.0 stars

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