- Running time:
- 108 minutes
- Robert Pattinson -
- Eric Packer
- Jay Baruchel -
- Kevin Durand -
- Paul Giamatti -
- Benno Levin
- Juliette Binoche -
- Didi Fancher
Robert Pattinson must be hellbent on escaping the world of sparkly-skinned undead to take on the starring role in the leaden, obtuse and ultra-pretentious Cosmopolis (*1/2 out of four; rated R; opens Friday in select cities).
The besotted courtly vampire Edward Cullen is light-years away from the smug billionaire cipher that is Eric Packer, the 28-year-old finance whiz whom Pattinson plays. Packer spends most of his time sitting in a white stretch limo that glides slowly and soundlessly around New York City over the course of a long day.
His snazzy ride has been lined with cork to keep the city's cacophony at bay. And there's plenty of that, what with protesters heaving dead rats, and traffic almost at a standstill because of a presidential motorcade and a rap star's funeral. He's informed there's a plot to kill him. Isolated inside his limo, Packer is mostly bemused.
When he isn't merely sitting, he's getting a prostate exam in the moving limo, having joyless sex with his art dealer (Juliette Binoche) or listening to the prattling of corporate advisers like Samantha Morton or Jay Baruchel. His massive fortune has taken a hit on this particular day as he watches the yuan exchange rate mount against all expectations. Packer had bet the Chinese currency would drop in value. But, even as his world is falling apart, what he cares about most is a haircut.
He briefly steps out when his limo pulls up by the taxi of his poet/heiress wife, Elise (Sarah Gadon). They sit at diners around town while she muses whether she's hungry and he wheedles her to consummate their marriage. She keeps her distance.
Packer is consumed with knowing where limos go at night, so his chauffeur shows him where he parks it, and things get slightly more interesting. The parking lot is in a seedy part of town. Packer gets out and tracks down his potential assassin Benno Levin (Paul Giamatti), and the two play a 20-minute-long game of cat and mouse, invigorated by the philosophical banter of the certifiably insane. Giamatti is the only actor in this airless abstraction that gives a lively, believable performance.
Moviegoers should never expect the mundane from director David Cronenberg, who brought audiences a twisted tale of twin gynecologists in Dead Ringers, and hobbyists with sexual fetishes for car accidents in Crash. But one can always hope for fare as cleverly creepy as The Fly or as tensely multidimensional as Eastern Promises.
Cosmopolis, based on Don DeLillo's 2003 novel about capitalist excess, could be regarded as a wake-up call for clueless one-percenters. But the film is willfully confounding, indulgent, claustrophobic and obfuscating, more concerned with attitude than clarity of focus. It's all vapid snark, didactic sermonizing and bewildering shock tactics.
Pattinson's performance is unmodulated, his face caught in a perpetual smirk. He deserves credit for choosing to work with a challenging filmmaker, but this role doesn't showcase his acting range.
The story of a spoiled and amoral rich guy who plays by his own rules is nothing new. Weighed down by inert storytelling, hollow characters and alternatingly pretentious and inane dialogue/non sequitirs, this nihilistic tale of conspicuous consumption is stultifying.
Movie theaters and showtimes for Cosmopolis in Des Moines.
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