Bored banker makes a bloodless tale
(15A, general release, 109 minutes )
Director: David Cronenberg Stars: Robert Pattinson, Paul Giamatti, Juliette Binoche, Samantha Morton, Mathieu Amalric
I'm a big fan of Don DeLillo, but for me, his 2003 novel Cosmopolis was a hollow, wordy disappointment.
David Cronenberg, however, would appear to disagree with me, because he's gone to the trouble of adapting it.
Continuing his quest to transform himself into a serious actor, Robert Pattinson stars as Eric Parker, a 28-year-old multi-millionaire fund manager whose abstraction from the ordinary world has become problematic.
Cosmopolis follows him, Ulysses-like, through the course of a single day, as he tours Manhattan in a ludicrously luxurious hi-tech stretch limo in which he's visited at various times by underlings, colleagues, flunkies and lovers -- but never by actual friends.
Eric lives in the shadow of his late father, a remorseless tycoon, and his own skill at playing the markets and making paper fortunes seems to bring him little satisfaction.
Eric is a man full of contradictions, with a misfiring moral compass: he's lost, and has so much that everything has lost its meaning.
He's recently married prim, bookish beauty Elise (Sarah Gadon), and meets her several times during the day to gently remonstrate about the fact that they haven't consummated their union yet.
But Eric isn't letting the grass grow under his feet, and has sex in his limo with several other women, including his spectacular art consultant, Didi (Juliette Binoche), who makes a brief but memorable appearance.
The markets, meanwhile, appear to be volatile, and Eric receives running reports from anxious advisors, who are clearly worried about his apparent indifference.
As Eric's ghastly stretch limo glides through midtown Manhattan, its progress is disturbed by a Presidential visit, a violent anti-capitalist protest and what Eric's advisors describe as a "credible threat" against his life.
But even this does not disturb the young man's self-satisfied torpor.
DeLillo's book, and Cronenberg's film, seem to be concerned with the collapse of political ideas and the corrosive effects of unchecked capitalism.
The novel, flawed as it was, had some interesting points to make about the moral bankruptcy of the anti-capitalists as well as the fat cats, but such subtleties are lost in Cronenberg's dreary, pretentious, heavy-handed film.
Heavy lighting and claustrophobic sets suggest a moral seriousness that simply isn't there, and the inconsequential storyline is smothered by chatter and endless, windy speeches.
Pattinson isn't bad exactly, but nothing he's confronted with as an actor, from werewolves to amorous Binoches, ever seems to disturb his glassy stupor.
Paul Giamatti chews the scenery in a late apparition, but at least brings a bit of passion to this verbose and bloodless production.
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