"Where to begin describing David Cronenbergs latest, think of it like a really messed up Richie Rich"
Where to begin describing David Cronenbergs latest, think of it like a really messed up Richie Rich. Based on the 2003 novel by Don DeLillo, Cosmopolis charts a day in the life of Billionaire asset manager Eric Packer, played by Robert Pattinson who travels across Manhatten in his bullet-proofed, cork lined limo attempting to simply get a hair cut.
The majority of the film is set inside Packers Hi tech limo as he's ferried around the sprawling city on an almost Homeric odyssey, interacting with various characters and coming to terms with a crumbling financial empire that is mirrored by his own downfall as a human being.
First and foremost, I should mention I hadn't read the book, I had no expectations of this film whatsoever other than I'm a massive fan of Cronenberg, not so much of Pattinson but I admired his decision to take on such a role. Since finishing his stint on the Twilight movies Pattinson was keen to branch out and wash himself of the squeaky clean heart throb persona he'd carved out, and a Cronenberg movie is practically the antithesis of Twilight.
As to the film itself, I have to say I didn't think much of it, it really wasn't what I was hoping for of a David Cronenberg film, don't get me wrong, the film has his fingerprints all over it particularly in the all too brief flashes of ultra violence and sexual depravity, as well as the methodical and crisp cinematography. But I was personally hoping for a film more in keeping with the tone of his more recent output namely Eastern Promises and A History Of Violence.
Coming at the film without having the read the book might be confusing to an outsider, myself included. And this is largely down to the way characters talk and converse with each other. The dialogue which for the most part has been lifted directly from the novel, comes across more like intellectual discourse, philosophical and existential concerns are embedded within the most menial of statements and as such I found it quite difficult to get into, it reminded me of films like A Clockwork Orange and Brick even books like Lord Of The Rings where they have a detached language unto themselves which requires a lot of patience from the viewer.
As I mentioned earlier, Pattinson is an interesting choice but for me I still can't quite see his appeal as an actor. The character of Eric Packer as I understand is supposed to be very cold and clinical, almost sociopathic and Pattinson arguably portrays this successfully on screen but then again cold and clinical is how I see him in every role, it just so happens he fits the bill perfectly this time round as a disconnected, ice cold playboy. The fact that Pattinson is overshadowed by several peripheral characters who barely get any screen time at all just goes to show how lack lustre his performance really is.
However one stand out scene that raised a few laughs is when Packer undergoes his daily medical, rather than visit his doctor, the doctor performs the examination in the limo. As Packer receives a prostate exam, his face is a picture as he continues a conversation with an employee sat inches from his face while the dutiful doctor works on. It's a scene both humorous and meaningful as we learn Packer has an asymmetrical prostate, a fact he reiterates several times throughout the film. The film has many moments of juxtaposition, his asymmetrical prostate compared to the imbalance going on around him, a sense of uncertainty as characters march toward their demise compared to their certainty, the phrase 'I know this' becomes almost like a mantra within the film.
Amongst the star studded cameos such as Jay Baruchel, Juliette Binoche, Samantha Morton, Sarah Gadon it is Mathieu Amalric as a custard pie throwing protestor and Paul Giamatti as a disgruntled ex employee with murder on his mind that really steal the show. Particularly Giamatti who gets a 22 minute long face off with Packer during the climactic sequence of the film, which is a fantastic example of why he is such a sought after actor, the sheer madness and the fear, both scared and threatening in equal measure is quite something to watch.
Ultimately, its a slightly off kilter film with a few dodgy performances. It demands a lot from the audience and I have to admit that after a while, the way in which characters speak and interact started to get on my nerves. Cronenberg is an incredibly talented directed, and for my money it was those moments of unflinching violence , gore and sex that really stood out for me, although they are few and far between in the movie, when they happen..you're in for a shock!