Blu-ray Review: Cosmopolis

David Cronenberg and dull aren’t two words you see together very often, but the writer/director’s latest effort, Cosmopolis, left me wondering how characters can talk for so long and say so little. Cosmopolis offers up plenty of gratuitous nudity, but even that can’t save this disappointing effort.

An adaptation of Don Delillo’s novel, the film follows Eric Packer (Robert Pattinson) a 28 year old billionaire asset manager on a trip across New York City to get a haircut. As the film gets underway, Packer is stopped in traffic, but this is a trip Packer insisted on taking, even though his bodyguard Torval (Kevin Durand) had warned it would be nightmarish.

Traffic is moving so slowly that he finds time to have both breakfast and lunch with his new wife, Elise (Sarah Gadon). The limo is a busy place. Eric also welcomes his mistress, Didi (Juliette Binoche); two consultants (Jay Baruchel and Philip Nozuka), his chief theoretician, Vija (Samantha Morton), and his doctor, who not only administers the prostate exam during his conference with Vija, but also uses the limo’s built-in technology to conduct sonar exams. Along the way, Packer finds time for an ‘odd’ hotel room tryst with his gorgeous security guard.

CosmopolisThe limo is a command center. Looking like something out of Star Trek, there are touch screens devoted to the world’s financial markets. David Cronenberg’s biggest accomplishment here just might be his ability to shoot so many screens inside the confines of a limousine without it appearing crowded. Even though the limo is bulletproof, things get decidedly tense when anarchists surround the car and begin to rock it back and forth. As is his reaction to viftually everything, Packer chooses to act as though the event isn’t happening.

The film’s final act introduces us to a crazy fellow named Benno Levin (Paul Giamatti), who desperately wants to see Eric Packer dead. After failing to kill him, Benno engages in conversation with his intended target—for a good ten minutes or so—it’s all philosophical, impenetrable and not particularly interesting.

The performances in Cosmopolis are as dull as the dialogue, which speaks more to Cronenberg’s vision than any fault of the actor. The film is flawlessly directed, but where Cronenberg falls short is in the writing. In adapting Don Delillo’s bestseller, Cronenberg obviously had a lot to say about the gap between the rich and the poor and the sense of isolation some people feel. However, the time he takes in getting to the somewhat interesting third act is full of ridiculous drivel. By the time Paul Giamatti arrives with something interesting to say, many viewers will have fallen asleep.

Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, Cosmopolis is a fairly nice transfer. Overall, sharpness is quite good, though the occasional shot exhibited some softness. Haloing, jagged edges and shimmering are non-issues. The color palette comes across rather well. Cronenberg opted for a largely cold, blue appearance. Blacks appear rich and deep and contrast, even.

The accompanying DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack is a good fit for the film. With much of the action taking place inside the confines of a limo, the sound designers chose to eliminate most of the road noise, making this a dialogue heavy track. The surround activity won’t impress those who like real thump in their speakers. However, there is nice ambient atmosphere and the depth is surprisingly good, Dialogue is crisp and clear throughout.

English subtitles are provided.

The following special features are included:

  • An Audio Commentary with Writer/Director David Cronenberg: Cronenberg provides a screen-specific commentary, giving details about how the film came to be, the cast and characters, production design, music, etc.  Cronenberg keeps things moving along nicely and manages to stay engaging throughout the film’s running time.
  • Citizens of Cosmopolis (50:21, HD) In this lengthy featurette, Cronenberg, along with other cast and crew discuss the film and its production, the message, the somewhat unique dialogue and more. If you’re a fan of the movie, this featurette is a must-see.
  • Interviews (27:06, HD) Cronenberg, producer Paulo Branco, producer Martin Katz, Robert Pattinson, Sarah Gadon, Kevin Durand, Jay Baruchel, Juliette Binoche, Emily Hampshire, Samantha Morton, K’naan, Mathieu Amalric, and Paul Giamatti discuss Don DeLillo’s novel, Cosmopolis and its characters. Some of the material here, can be found in the “Citizens of Cosmopolis” featurette.