Cosmopolis ★★½

I'm a huge fan of David Cronenberg. His work is some of the most intelligent and profound in North America. But Cosmopolis is by far the weakest film I've seen by him. It's horrendously dull. It is just a film of pontifications about wealth, but it's all so cold and intellectual rather than compelling. Some of it might be meaningful, but as it also comes from untrustworthy characters it is intellectually and ideologically useless. All the dialogue appears detached and uniform, not least because it half comes from Robert Pattinson's cold, narcissistic, aloof, and callous lead. Perhaps that homogeneity is part of the broader point on how capitalism makes the world reductive, but that doesn't stop it being a dull way to make that point.

Take this conversation:

"That's not why I'm unemployable."
"Then why?"
"Because I stink."

It may be making a real excellent point on class and status and the shallow divides of capitalism, but that dialogue is a boring and didactic way of presenting such an idea. It reduces the topic to words and hypotheticals. Which is in direct contrast with a recent film that tackled the exact same concept: Parasite. By reducing all the nuance of class to a bunch of people who all talk the same, monologuing about wealth, Cosmopolis does nothing to make the conversation feel relevant to reality.

Cosmopolis is interesting as a work. The really fake greenscreen dominant in the film adds to its artifice, which matches the dialogue. Stylistically it is distinct. Cronenberg makes strong use of sex and violence, as expected. The brief violence is always built up with great tension, and the passionless sex really suits the world. This is a film about how the rich are above all the squabbles and problems of ordinary people, and Cronenberg does depict that well. It's just unfortunate that so much is a very obvious, hamfisted attempt at economic philosophy. Cosmopolis is a real slog to get through, in spite of its strengths. It's mostly boring and that's a great shame. Nice final shot though.

2012 Ranked
David Cronenberg Ranked