David Cronenberg’s anti-drama adaptation of a late Don De-Lillo novel takes an absurdly rich young trader, Eric Packer (Robert Pattinson), and sends him on a reality-bending dream ride through a day spent in his stretch limo in Manhattan.

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With his fortune, his marriage and his life all under threat, it is a day in which every-thing seems to be coming apart.

The film though is filled with overlaps and neat alignments: it’s a film about alienation that can-not connect with an audience; it features an actor who seems to be perennially frustrated by and uncomprehending of his stardom playing a man who no longer understands his success; it suggests capitalism has now become an abstract technical, meaningless pursuit entirely divorced from reality and has no purpose – which would make a pretty decent critique of the creative careers of Cronenberg in the last decade and DeLillo post-Under-world, and of this film.

I can understand the audience’s hasty alienation from the precepts of film watching which they expressed through whispers, sniggers, theatrical yawns and twitter checks.

The first 15 minutes is excruciatingly awful, packed with lines of dialogue that sound like Bono lyrics: “Why do they call it an airport?” usually delivered as if the actors themselves don’t fully understand the words they are saying.

Initially Pattinson looks like he’s going to flounder spectacularly but every actor has moments that are wince-inducingly awful and he actually comes through it better than most of them.

Like his performance, the film never quite comes good but is never entirely dull. Its vision of a world run by ferociously intelligent, information-drenched people who know everything and haven’t the faintest idea what is going on is darkly humorous and there are moments that excite and provoke like classic Cronenberg did.

There are big provocative ideas packed into Cosmopolis though it is a struggle to try to dig them out amongst the grotesque surfeit of dialogue.

COSMOPOLIS (15)

Director: David Cronenberg

Starring: Robert Pattinson, Jay Baruchel, Juliette Binoche, Samantha Morton, Paul Giamatti and Matthieu Amalric

Length: 109 min

**

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