Cosmopolis is a film that has been dividing audiences since its debut at Cannes, and it will continue to do so. I am a huge fan of director David Cronenberg, he rarely disappoints and last year he gave me a big disappointment with A Dangerous Method. That left more than a bad taste in my mouth, and it was even more heartbreaking as it contained great talent. So upon hearing about Cosmopolis I didn’t want to keep my hopes high but as soon as I saw that first trailer, I was sold. It felt like Cronenberg had gone back to being well Cronenberg, and upon seeing the film I can safely say that yes he really did.
This is not an easy film to dissect or even try to describe, there is a lot going on here and it is not meant to be taken at face value. It takes place in mostly one location and it is dialogue heavy, those words and the amazing visuals tell us the real story at hand and it is a film that really needs to be seen more than once to really get a grasp for it. I have not read the book by Don DeLillo, but as I understand it, it had been called unfilmable. Cronenberg has filmed the unfilmable before with Naked Lunch, and this in a way is like that.
The film for the most part shows 28 year old billionaire Eric Packer (Robert Pattinson) in his limo wanting to go get a hair cut. This event keeps getting held back as he gets frequent visits in his limo from people and that there are many events taking place outside. The conversations that take place in the limo are important, and the way the dialogue is written is just unnatural but it is alluring. This is going to take some time to get used to, as the audience just gets thrown into it. The events outside are also of note, and they are overly relevant to today’s society. It is strange in that way as the book was published in 2003 and Don DeLillo eerily saw this future coming with the financial crisis and Occupy Wall Street and so forth. It is why these conversations and events are interesting, and the clever metaphors that are at play will be eye opening. The film certainly has a lot to say about the rich and powerful, and I think the detached feel really rang true. But again it just needs to be experienced, and you need to feel that detachment in the limo as Eric experiences what he does but nothing outside until much later. What we do see happen outside changes throughout the film, and the images we see look detached.
For anyone who doubts the talents of Robert Pattinson may have only seen him in the Twilight series and there is a lot more to him than that. He is a really good actor, and the material here is strong and he handles it well. Not only does he deliver a great performance, he really understood what was needed of him. Dare I say this is the best performance he has given? I think so, and I can only hope that he teams with Cronenberg again because this is a strong team. He is the star here, and the supporting players are all very good. None more memorable than Paul Giamatti, his exchange with Pattinson is my favourite part of the film and it truly is a revelation. I also want to mention Sarah Gadon as Eric’s wife, their relationship is interesting and extremely cold. These are two rich people who are together for that very reason, and their interactions reflected this.
This is an interesting film, and after thinking on it for a few days I do think it is a Cronenberg classic. It is visually stunning, and superbly directed and acted. This is as Cronenbergian as it gets, it is and probably will continue to be a love it or hate it affair with audiences. I do recommend that people do read between the lines here and take in the dialogue and visuals. Do not be turned away because this is different and because it stars the heartthrob of Twilight. Cosmopolis is certainly worth taking a chance on, it is an experience.