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'Cosmopolis' stays true to much of book

Charles Ealy

CANNES, France David Cronenberg takes his customarily spartan, interior approach in his adaptation of the 2003 Don DeLillo novel "Cosmopolis," and it works.

The Canadian director confines almost all of the action inside a limousine that's making its way through Manhattan and carrying Eric Parker (Robert Pattinson), a self-styled master of the universe who has made a fortune on Wall Street.

And in keeping with the novel, the interior of the limousine is completely silent. No soundtrack, no background noises, just Eric talking with various aides who enter and leave the limousine along the route to a barbershop.

In effect, these encounters work as mini-movies, as Eric discusses philosophy with an adviser (Samantha Morton), as well as other matters with other advisers.

Cronenberg, who adapted the novel for the screen in six days, says he wanted to preserve the book's dialogue, This strategy leads to extended verbal exchanges, which help create an artificial feeling to the film. But that's part of the movie's point. Eric has created an isolated environment inside his limousine and separated himself from the world. Those who wish to talk with him must enter his world. And this even applies to his doctor, who makes a daily visit to Eric to perform a physical in the limousine.

But this arch setup that features sparkling dialogue demands a sparkling delivery, and Pattinson is surprisingly flat and passive. His dialogue seems like it could come from a Shakespearean tragedy, but Pattinson doesn't enunciate and doesn't capture the spirt that DeLillo and Cronenberg have created for the character.

Despite Pattinson's performance, "Cosmopolis" could be a contender for the Palme d'Or. If it wins, the Palme would be a first for a Canadian director.