Crosstown Tragic

I write some good columns. I write some bad ones. Sometimes the bad ones are my fault (I procrastinate too long); sometimes they’re not (it’s a light week for new movies and I have nothing to say about any of them). No one’s perfect all the time. But when a good director makes a bad film, I wonder what’s going on.

Specifically, I want to know what’s up with David Cronenberg. He directed “The Fly,” “M. Butterfly” and, more recently, “A History of Violence” and “Eastern Promises.” He also directed (and wrote the screenplay for) “Cosmopolis,” out Friday. In the film, Robert Pattinson plays a guy taking a limo ride across New York City to get a haircut while things happen to him. It’s like “The Odyssey,” if “The Odyssey” sucked.

“Cosmopolis” is primarily a meditation on class, sex and violence. Cronenberg is great at exploring these issues — just see his previous films — but here it’s just a big mess. Did he not realize it wasn’t working until he was halfway through filming? Did he figure the problems with the script would get worked out later? Did he have too much faith in Pattinson, who has to carry the movie (and who fails)? Because I have trouble thinking that the man capable of addressing big issues with fiercely compelling films can look at “Cosmopolis” and be proud.

Kristen Page-Kirby covers film for The Washington Post Express.
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