Director: David Cronenberg
Talent: Robert Pattinson, Samantha Morton, Paul Giamatti, Sarah Gadon
Release Date: 15th June 2012
There’s a moment in Cosmopolis, David Cronenberg’s latest film and an adaptation of the Don DeLillo novel of the same name, where Samantha Morton says of the hyper-growth of capital and wealth: “Money has lost its narrative quality. Money is talking to itself.” That Capitalism has grown beyond cognition into something outside of narrative, into something at once timeless and sizeless, is not a novel pronouncement: indeed, Zizek has made a point of repeating that it is more readily imagined, in film as in life, that the world itself might end rather than that Capitalism might come to a halt.
And so it is that Cosmopolis, in which a multi-millionaire played by Robert Pattinson journeys across Manhattan with a view to getting a haircut amidst social unrest, market uncertainty, sexual frustration and a credible threat against his own life, attempts to realise this aforementioned soliloquy of Capital, with results as painful and turgid as might be expected from such an experiment. Make no mistake: no film ever made is quite like this; it is grating, witless, preeningly amoral – the sort of film you might expect to find within a Bret Easton Ellis novel – and formally bereft. Samantha Morton’s small piece of screen time, in which she expounds with aimlessness and gravitas on the theoretical implications of the situation Pattinson finds himself in, along with industry in general, does little to make up for the rest of the lead performances from Pattinson, Gadon and Giamatti: respectively embarrassing, infuriating and colossally ill-advised. The whole thing plays out with a reverence for wealth and its attendant ennui that will be familiar to audiences of alleged satires such as Cameron Crowe’s insipid Vanilla Sky and the majority of Wes Anderson’s back catalogue. At 108 minutes in length, and without a central performance of note, it sinks in infamy to the very bottom of its generic barrel.
There is no question that Cronenberg has mimicked the woeful lived experience of late Capitalism on a formal and diegetic level in making Cosmopolis, but the final product is as tirelessly unwatchable as even the most gruesome of infomercials.