May 27, 2012 1:08PM

Cannes Film Review: Cosmopolis

Rob Pattinson eschews Edward Cullen in David Cronenberg's ode to the 1%.

I had to sit on Cosmopolis for a day and turn it over in my mind before finishing this review. Directed by David Cronenberg, the film inspired a variety of emotions in me: from excitement to immense boredom, to humour, disgust, confusion and, finally, appreciation.

At Cannes I've avoided going online to read reviews because I didn't want to be swayed, but with this one I acquiesced — I wasn't sure what I thought. It obviously had a lot of buzz surrounding it, not least because R Patz has a starring role.

Rob plays Eric Packer, a 28-year-old cold-hearted capitalist and member of the 1%. The film follows him for a day as he journeys across Manhattan to get a haircut. A man of convenience, Packer conducts business meetings, gets laid and squeezes a doctor's check-up (complete with a prostate examination, which he seems to enjoy) all without leaving the comfort of his limousine. Juliette Binoche has a great cameo as his older paramour who takes having an orgasm to a whole new level.

Packer likes having a lot of sex, even having a crack at one of his female bodyguards. One woman he doesn't have much luck with, however, is his newlywed wife Elise (Sarah Gadon). They meet for meals in random spots throughout the day and engage in painfully awkward conversation: mostly revolving around the fact that she won't have sex with him (a sore point for him) and the fact that he wreaks of sex (a sore point for her). Either way they're doomed: in one scene she notices for the first time that his eyes are blue, despite having been married for weeks.

Packer is easy to dislike and the central plot of the film — if there even is one — is that someone is out to kill him. He's aware but remains entirely unperturbed. He's almost the latest incarnation of Patrick Bateman: his empty gaze, emotionless dialogue, his mouth curling seamlessly between a smirk and a sneer. In fact, nearly all of the characters are odd and remote in some way, which appears to be the point of both Cronenberg and novelist Don DeLillo's (whose book the film was adapted from): we aren't meant to like them let alone relate to them.

Although the synopsis sounds exciting, the film actually drags on a little and the dialogue can be laborious and affected. The script is of a particular style and so laden with metaphors that the film is bound to turn up on a school English syllabus at some stage.

In this sense it's certainly a statement film, but not necessarily an enjoyable experience. I wasn't alone in thinking this: a few members of the press walked out during the screening and some were even asleep — I looked around me at one stage to make sure I was not the only one almost nodding off.

At the end, however, there was a moment that changed my mind. Without giving too much away, Paul Giamatti appears and we are finally presented with a rational character — someone who puts the rest in perspective. Paul himself said at the press conference after the screening, "I represent the only sane man in the movie."

Although mine is far from a glowing review, the film is definitely work checking out if only because of its timely relevant subject matter (capitalism = evil) and Rob's performance. He's certainly shaking off Edward Cullen (a great loss for women worldwide) and with supporters as credible as David Cronenberg he'll continue to challenge his teen-heartthrob status. As David commented when journalists kept pestering Rob at the conference, "I don't think of my other movies when I am making my movies at all, and I think that about Rob and, in fact, Paul. We are creating a new thing —an original thing — and we have to forget about all that other stuff." When Rob was asked to comment he just grinned and said, "Ditto."

Cosmopolis will see release in the UK this June, Australia in August.

Alice Cavanagh

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