Cosmopolis’s ability to extract the listlessness and monotonous atmosphere from its source material is flawless. Based on the book of the same title written by satirical novelist Don DeLillo, Cosmopolis is a Cronenberg film through and through. Starring the polarizing Robert Pattinson, Cosmopolis’s depressing, realistic insight into the populaces current state of desensitization and the restlessness of its growing boredom is unflinching. The limited setting and narrow storyline combined with a terrifically terrifying emotionless performance from Pattinson will definitely discourage. But to those who can appreciate its simplicity and stomach its message of the lifeless direction humanity is heading towards, Cosmopolis is a mirror into the soul of civilization. Directed by David Cronenberg who also adapts Cosmopolis to the screen. This unique view of society’s heart is heartbreaking to say the least.
Eric Packer (Pattinson) is a 28 year old billionaire riding across Manhattan to get a haircut. He is riding in his limousine which also acts as his office from day to day. Eric needs his haircut to be from his preferred barber, which he is willing to travel to, even through traffic. The traffic is caused by the president of the United States. At different points in the day, Eric meets with his wife who is unwilling to have sex with him. Stopping at various destinations for sex, food, a doctors appointment, and to discuss business, all mostly occurring in his limousine, Eric begins traveling down a path to self-destruction.
Those who’ve read DeLillo’s novel are aware it has divided his audience. Cosmopolis is thought by some to be a contrived effort not meant to grace the pages of a paperback, let alone the big screen. Others perceive it as an unblinking eye gazing into the tasteless abyss consuming us, the consumers. The themes and subject matter of Cosmopolis are intentionally shallow. Shedding light onto sham marriages, our cultures obsession with outward looks, social sex, our numb toleration of violence, and the deadening praise to unworthy idols. To say that nothing occurs in Cosmopolis is defamation. Countless situations and events take place, there is simply no structure to them and Cronenberg honours that. The notion that books with no plots or foundation make bad movies is a fabrication. It is not the norm however and ones ability to surpass the conception of these patterns will greatly enhance the viewing of Cosmopolis.
Now that my rant is out of the way. Cosmopolis might not be Cronenberg’s best outing, but it’s still a Cronenberg film. His ability to create relevant films whether or not they sit well with the audience is unmatched. Cronenberg is aware of his following and what they can tolerate. Cosmopolis might test that notion more than Cronenberg’s past pictures, but even if it disperses his following, Cronenberg is staying true to his obscure roots. As for performances, Robert Pattinson’s is the only one worth discussing. Even if a emotionless, bereaved role is in his sweet spot, Pattinson surprised many. Not only by being cast in this Cronenberg film, but the outcome of his dead faced performance. Pattinson captures Eric Packer like lighting in a bottle.
Cosmopolis’s deep message and ugly surface are a hefty contrast. But for those who can take the punch, it is a redemptive reward.
Cosmopolis: 7 out of 10.