In a day and age where comic book flicks are hitting the big screen every summer and reboot films are a dime a dozen, it’s nice to see a different type of film. Cosmopolis certainly qualifies as different and then some. Will this movie become a mainstream hit…no. Will people go see the movie just because Robert Pattinson is in it…yes. Regardless of the box office numbers this film achieves, it truly is unique, albeit strange and quirky. Cosmopolis is based upon Don DeLillo’s novel of the same name, marking his thirteenth career novel; published in 2003. It was adapted for the screen by David Cronenberg and directed by David Cronenberg. If you are a fan of Cronenberg’s work, then you will probably enjoy this movie.
Cosmopolis opens with Eric Packer (Robert Pattinson – Twilight Saga, Remember Me, Water for Elephants), a 28 year old billionaire asset manager who decides to take a trip across midtown Manhattan to get a haircut. The only problem is the U.S. President is in town and several of the streets are blocked off. Packer cannot be dissuaded from getting a haircut. He refuses to visit a closer barbershop, insisting on wading through gridlock traffic. Packer meets with people in his custom stretch limo, which is futuristically high-tech, bullet-proof and cork-lined to eliminate street noise. Packer’s journey is also obstructed by a funeral procession for a Sufi rap star. Eric Packer seems to be bored with life and is looking for the next big rush. He has just bet big against a currency he doesn’t quite understand; the Yuan. He begins losing money by the hundreds of millions and starts down the path of self-destruction.
Robert Pattinson was well chosen for this role, which requires a certain caliber of actor. Robert’s popularity was catapulted into the atmosphere with the Twilight Saga and he can seemingly do no wrong. With recent relationship developments, and his classy handling of said events, it gives him even more momentum on his path toward super-stardom. While Robert will undoubtedly be among the Hollywood greats remembered throughout history, he has a long way to go. This film, while well-acted, is probably not going to be a feather in his cap. His role is well portrayed, but the movie is simply too far out there for most people to digest.
The majority of Cosmopolis takes place inside the limousine, almost giving it a life of its own. The limited cast did a fair job of sharing the burden of this film. The roles are sometimes difficult to decipher as the interactions are so obtuse and strange in certain parts of the film. Juliette Binoche (The English Patient, Dan in Real Life) who plays Didi Fancher, is part of the top-billed cast and only has one scene in the film. She plays her part well, but again she is only in the movie for one scene. Elise Shifrin (Sarah Gadon – A Dangerous Method, The Moth Diaries) plays Eric Packer’s wife in the film. She’s the daughter of old money and is also worth billions of dollars. Eric and Elise have frequent interaction throughout the film, as he finds her in strange places throughout the city, along his journey toward getting a haircut. Gadon does a good job of playing the part, but the part itself is so strange it’s really hard to get excited about her role. The mood and tone are so quirky and distant that it lacks feeling and typical human emotion.
One standout performance comes to us by way of Paul Giamatti (Sideways, Cinderella Man, Rock of Ages), who plays Benno Levin. Benno is an ex-employee of Eric Packer who has made it his life’s mission to learn everything about Packer. In his eyes, his only contribution to humanity would be to kill Eric Packer. Benno’s life is utterly meaningless otherwise. As always, Paul Giamatti jumps off the screen with his larger than life performance. He brings true emotion into a film that seems devoid of it or at least operates in an alternate version of reality. He’s the beacon of light in an otherwise bleak and strange film. Giamatti is an underrated actor who always delivers and makes you really stop and take notice. Kudos to Paul Giamatti for yet another fine performance.
David Cronenberg is not known for writing and/or directing box office hits. Nothing about Cronenberg screams mainstream either. While this is not the first novel to ever be turned into a screenplay, it’s certainly an interesting choice. Bestsellers typically have a chance of making it to the big screen. Other well received books with strong emotional ties will also grace the big screen from time to time. In this case, reviews for Cosmopolis (the novel) were generally mixed to negative, especially when compared to most of DeLillo’s previous novels. Again, Cronenberg is not known to be mainstream, but there was obviously something that drew him to adapting the book and then directing it. If you look at Cronenberg’s resume this movie should come as no surprise, but Eastern Promises was a very gripping and intense film. Some would have seen that movie as a turning point in his career, which definitely doesn’t follow the typical pattern of a Hollywood director.
Cosmopolis is a very unique, yet obtuse film that meanders through the head trip of a twisted reality. For fans of Cronenberg’s work, you will not be disappointed. The camera work and attention to detail all resonate in this film. For those enamored by the trailer and the excitement of Robert Pattinson, you may find yourself disappointed. While Pattionson does deliver in this somewhat challenging role, it’s nowhere close to his typical role of Twilight films or even Water for Elephants. If you’re willing to suffer through the film just to see Robert Pattinson, then do so at your own peril. Simply put, the movie is strangely inhuman, yet focused on carnal desires and self-destruction.
If you’ve seen the movie already, please share your thoughts below. If you haven’t seen the movie, go see it…then come back and talk about it.