Cosmopolis is a film that will really divide people, it isn’t really conventional but David Cronenberg rarely is and this is where his strengths as a filmmaker lie. I really did not like his previous effort A Dangerous Method and it was his most conventional film to date. Cosmopolis has a lot more in common with the likes of Naked Lunch, Crash and eXistenZ, films that are certainly not conventional and drown in that Cronenberg flavour. I really cannot easily describe Cosmopolis, I feel this is something that just needs to be experienced, it is one wild and unique ride. It is a film that is unlike any other and one that you really cannot get a grasp of fully after just one viewing. That is the beauty of Cronenberg, he wants his audience to experience his art over and over because there are so many layers to uncover.
The film is an adaptation of Don DeLillo’s novel of the same name, I haven’t read it yet but I do believe Cronenberg made a very close adaptation and kept a lot of the dialogue the same. Our film is about a young billionaire Eric Packer (Robert Pattinson) who on this particular day decided he wants to go in his limo to get a hair cut and conduct his business for the day in said limo. His trip is under constant delays from numerous events that are happening and his frequent stops to visit his wife (Sarah Gadon).
I am sure that plot description does not sound like much but there is in fact a lot going on with this film. It is dialogue heavy, and the dialogue is anything but natural. The view of the outside world from within the limo is also unnatural, and I do believe this was done on purpose. There is a lot being said here about the rich, and I think that unnatural look of the outside world was a huge metaphor about the rich being so detached from the real world. Don DeLillo’s novel was first published in 2003, and his themes ring more true today with the financial crisis and things like Occupy Wall Street. Is he a man who could predict the future? In a way I think he saw the direction that things were heading, and Cosmopolis seems overly relevant today.
I think it is safe to say that Robert Pattinson was a real revelation here, this is his best performance to date. There are no shades of Twilight or a teen heart throb here, instead he is a very cold and collected person who slowly loses it. He goes from great to greater as the film moves from its first act to its third. He seems like a great fit for Cronenberg, and this is evidence that the man is talented with the right material. Those around him are also quite exceptional, Kevin Durand is fantastic and it was actually very cool to see him in a Cronenberg film. Sarah Gadon was perfect as the wife, their relationship is cold and one of convenience. However her scenes with Pattinson are almost hypnotic, the chemistry was quite outstanding for this relationship. I don’t think you can go wrong with Juliette Binoche and Samantha Morton, both of whom are quite memorable. The stand out with Pattinson was Paul Giamatti, and their confrontation was spectacular, it may even be one of my favourite scenes this year.
I’d rather not delve too much deeper, I really do not want to ruin this experience for anyone. This is a film that might be too much for some, or it may leave some very confused or very cold. Like I said this isn’t typical by any means, and if you do have a taste for the unusual and a taste for films that aren’t spoon fed to you you should get a lot out of this one. For fans of Cronenberg this is a must, he is probably at his most Cronenbergian here, and I really liked that. His script and direction are perfect for this story, I know he does things for a reason and I know I will get so much more out of this upon repeating viewings.
Marcella Papandrea blogs at Killer Film.