Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Under 250: Cosmopolis

Cosmopolis is a successful adaptation of a decidedly uncinematic work of fiction. In taking on the task of filming Don DeLillo's short novel, David Cronenberg all but set himself up for a critical meltdown and a bevy of unhappy viewers.  It's a postmodern novel, a work that seeks to make a statement on modernity and which uses its characters as control systems.  Eric Packer (Robert Pattinson) is less an individual than a construct, a rogue capitalist in a post-human world who stands in, essentially, for an entire capitalist economy.  In both book and film we hear him say that when he dies, the world will end.  It's a melodramatic line delivered with straight, blank conviction, and we have to wonder at whether or not there's something to it.  Of course, many will simply say no, and they'd be right: Cosmopolis is a film pre-loaded with wooden dialogue, drained of personality, and which slogs through downtown traffic installing glowing neon signs around every possible touch of allusion or symbolism.  It's faithful to a fault, and seeing DeLillo's stylistically stilted lines delivered by real human beings somehow deflates it of potential.  While I could admire the effort, and would argue that this is a ballsy move for Pattinson the glittery vampire, Cosmopolis is too limited and constrained by its source material.  Cronenberg is misusing his cast, not taking nearly enough liberties with the content, and keeping style at bay.  As an adaptation, it couldn't be better. As a film? Meh.

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