Maybe this is naked metropolitan bias, but I’d thought the audience for an art-house David Cronenberg flick at Lincoln Center would know what they were getting into. Not true! A good handful of moviegoers shelled out $13 for a ticket to Cosmopolis on Saturday night and ran for the hills halfway through. There are a multitude of factors to consider in such a decision.
First of all, the exquisite oddity of hearing dialogue by Don DeLillo, who authored the short novel on which the film was based, out loud. It sure doesn’t sound like how people talk, and unless you give yourself over to its strange, deadpan, techno-plastic cadences, it will ruin everything. If you accept this manner of speech, however, the script is actually quite funny, and people were laughing all over, even those who mentioned in front-lobby whispers that they hadn’t read the book.
They laughed, that is, until some outburst of INTENSE CRONENBERGIAN VIOLENCE. You had to know these were coming, right? Watch out, a dude gets stabbed in the eye. Repeatedly.
This is intercut with a lot of "action" set in the interior of a limo (the ultra-rich protagonist is attempting to get across town for a highly meaningful haircut on a day of apocalyptic traffic, to say nothing of his own self-destruction), meaning there’s not a lot to look at except Robert Pattinson’s forehead, which my wife kept pointing out regardless. Compound this with the weird and processed digital shots—rumor has it Croney will never shoot in film again—and you realize you might have done well to wait and watch on Netflix Streaming.
Still, you have a creepy, challenging, high-wire act of a film, one that moreover touches the third rail of data-saturated global capitalism like the a throbbing, painful nerve that it is. You may wail, as did a woman sitting behind me, “What is wrong with this guy?!” after every bit of erratic on-screen behavior—but at least you’re asking the right question.