Search Film Reviews

Monday, September 3, 2012

Cosmopolis Review

Robert Pattinson in Cosmopolis
Cosmopolis Review
2012, 108 minutes
Rated R for some strong sexual content including graphic nudity, violence and language

Cosmopolis is one of the strangest films that I have seen in a long while.  There is much in common, stylistically, with director David Cronenberg's (Dead Ringers, A History of Violence) previous film, A Dangerous Method in that the film consists almost exclusively of idea-filled conversations between two people interrupted only by the occasional sex scene.  This approach has turned many off of these two exquisite films, but this approach has mostly worked for me (I do have a few reservations).  

The film follows a young billionaire, Eric Packer (Robert Pattinson), who, over the course of one day, loses his fortune (and much else) while going across Manhattan in his limo to get a haircut while street protests are occurring, the president is visiting, and a rock star's funeral is going on.

There is much that I loved about this film, particularly the characterization of Packer.  Packer is a man who has had everything come easy for him.  However, now, he wants more.  Wealthy men in the financial business commonly "want more" and go to extremes to get it.  Packer epitomizes these selfish men.  He, like Bernie Madoff and others, sacrifices others to get whatever that "more" is.  However, being human, he is susceptible to failure.  The one hurdle that he cannot master is the Chinese Yuan which leads to his financial downfall.  In addition, this film acts as a critique of the "Information Age". Packer wanted to know about his security and his finances at all times and with the constant searching for this information, he isolated himself.  In this age we want more and more information on every aspect of our lives, but in that quest for information and the constant stimulation from that, we lose our ability to socialize properly and isolate ourselves.  

This film (as many others before it have) shows the coldness that characterizes many wealthy people today and their inability to connect with the common person.  In a few particularly interesting scenes, Packer has meals with his wife (Sarah Gadon), another billionaire.  The two cannot relate to each other.  Packer even mentions to her how he is trying to make conversation by using small talk.  These people have been in their own worlds for so long that they no longer can relate to others.

Packer's world is in his limo.  He has sex in his limo, he has a daily doctor's appointment and prostate exam in his limo, and he does much of his work out of his limo.  The limo symbolizes the bubble that Packer lives in.  Everyone comes into the limo, except for Packer's wife.  She is completely shut out and the only person not intertwined with Packer's business.  Slowly, but surely, the limo is trashed.  Protesters spray paint it and hit it.  A giant rat object that the protesters hold smashes into it.  These acts destroy the exterior of Packer's limo (and simultaneously, Packer loses some of his clothes and dignity).

To complement the complex story is the clever camerawork (much of the film takes place inside a limo and it rarely gets boring) and the excellent score by Cronenberg's frequent collaborator Howard Shore.

In addition, the acting is universally great.  Robert Pattinson, an actor who has been slammed for his acting in Twilight and many other films, is a perfect match for DeLillo's stilted dialogue.  He says his lines well, but adds a little something extra that makes him interesting to watch.  However, Paul Giamatti steals the show in the one scene that he is in.  His performance is intense.  I could not take my eyes off of him.  Playing an unhinged man, he captures the nervous movements and speech pattern perfectly.  This is one of his best performances.

Great as Cosmopolis is, it isn't perfect.  The main issue, albeit a minor one, is that a few conversations carry on a bit too long and are a bit too hard to follow.  Conversations like these do not happen often, but one scene where it took away from the film is the end.  The final sequence has one long conversation with a lot of tension, but after a while, some of the tension is lost.  However, it picks right back up and ends on a very powerful note.

Overall, Cosmopolis is not a perfect movie, but it is absolutely one that I would watch again (there is too much there for one viewing).  I would also only recommend to fans of Cronenberg's other work.  This film is incredibly ambitious and brilliant and was a perfect marriage of author, director, and star.

-Joshua Handler

No comments:

Post a Comment