Cosmopolis 2012 ★★★★½

Like with Margaret, Cosmopolis is a film that reveals itself on multiple viewings. When I first saw it I failed to adapt to the film and as with evolution, you adapt or you die.
I still liked it and I admired Cronenberg's audacity for not giving a shit if you followed or even liked the film. My fault was to view the dialogue as an obstacle that lies between me and the plot. I realised too late on my first viewing that the dialogue is the plot.

Watching it again with this mindset I've bumped it up a half star and I was able to relax in the knowledge that not much action was going to happen. I could bask in the dialogue and look for the nuances. And sure enough I loved it. What at first felt detached and impenetrable became a little more accesible and I feel like I got much more from the film on second viewing.

Were it not for the octogenarian fucking selfish arrogant fucking fuckramps who decided to speak loudly over the final scene between Benno Levin and Eric Packer I feel I would have been able to focus on the dialogue and enjoy it as much as I did the other parts.
As it stands I would like to see it again and really pay attention during the final scene.

One scene and line of dialogue that really stuck out to me as ringing incredibly true and prescient (seeing as the book was written over a decade ago) is when Samantha Morton talks about how computers and technology in its current form is dying out. It's slowly becoming part of the fabric of our ever day existence. I had a similar thought months prior when I walked up to an automatic door and realised it was out of order. Now what? How do I exit the building? There was no other exit and people started amassing looking around sheepishly. Eventually we got out, but is that situation worth the minimal strain of opening a door that the electric door is saving us from?
Fridges with computers so you can surf the web while you cook, mobile cinema tickets where your telephone is scanned, electronic public transport tickets, everything is moving away from the tangible, manual and physical.

Cosmopolis is the most singular and lean film I have seen in a long time. Everything, every scene, every line, every action all works towards the greater meaning of the film.

I'm ready for round three.

7 Comments

  • Nice, glad you enjoyed it more this time.

    I am going to do a full out analysis when I have this on Blu-ray. A few thoughts on my second viewing:

    1. Robert Pattinson's narcissism is a major theme in the movie. Like Patrick Bateman, he often fails to have a discussion of emotion and resorts to telling people about his material goods. The things he owns are of such extravagance though that it's essentially parody of the 1%, mocking the pointlessness of extreme wealth (he owns illegal jets capable of firing nukes; multiple elevators for multiple moods; helipads; etc). When pressed about purchasing a Rothko painting, Pattinson quickly becomes uneasy and in some sort of effort to prove his manliness forgoes merely buying the art, but an entire exhibit just for his own personal use. It's his! Everything is his!
    2. What was the deal with the art? Rothko is under the end credits, is a talking point in the film; Pollock is under the opening credits. Abstract art and Pattinson's fascination with it. What's with that?
    3. I mentioned Pattinson's desire for more, more, more. The barbershop scene made sense to me thinking in this mindset. The barber and cabbie talk about the small, insignificant joys of driving a cab. Horrible, unrelatable things to Pattinson (pissing under a bridge, taking no vacations, driving day and night). Their nostalgia and attachment to feeling is so foreign to Pattinson that I think the scene is from his POV, their conversation is incomprehensible and makes him anxious because he's so out of his element.
    4. His ownership of things extends to women; he tries to sell and smooth-talk his new wife - although she, more than him, is aware it is merely another business transaction. Two fortunes become one. He tries, with calculated precision like his gift with numbers, to win her but fails because he lacks the human touch. He is aggressive and violent towards women, showing no respect, as evident by his interaction with every other woman in the film.
    5. As the film progresses, (the transition I think is with the Samantha Morton scene) Pattinson begins to envy feeling and emotion in others and wanting the simple joys of life for himself. He sees a man burning himself and is excited at the prospect of how that must feel. His first moment of awareness and interest in human qualities.…

  • These are all very interesting observations, some I noticed this viewing others I did not. I think that the reason this film works for me is that it is enjoyable on a narrative level without needing to delve into the subtext (though if you do you will be richly rewarded). I always think that you can't have subtext without text and many 'art house' films forget to have an interesting text.

    I think the film narratively was about a wealthy man wanting to make a statement and show the world that he will get a haircut even if all these other things are going on, the president, riots etc. Slowly throughout the day it becomes obvious that Packer is completely isolated from everyone and from human emotion. He starts to crave feeling anything and that's why loosing all that money becomes exhilarating, that's why he looks at the monk in envy, why he asks to be tazed, why he shoots himself in the hand etc. He is trying to find feeling.

    As for your questions:
    1) I think it is something that 'proves' you have wealth and taste. Again, like many things in his life it is a statement. A statement that he can buy things things, that he can afford them and that he possesses them.
    2) This is a good questions. I have no idea, but something I will look for in a rewatch.
    3) His use of 'we need a haircut' instead of 'I need a haircut' is what is known as a 'majestic plural' used for popes, royalty, monarchs, bishops etc.

  • I also agree with your position that Cronenberg did not just film the book. I hears an interview where he said that in the novel Benno Levin is introduced at the start and the first few pages are his dairy, revealing Eric Packer's dead body as being on the floor next to Levin. DiLillo remarked to Cronenberg that he wondered how he would deal with the diary, and thought it was a good choice to just excise it.

  • Probably my most anticipated film of the year. Comes out here in America next week!

    I have like 10 movies I need to review on here. I'm way behind

  • Wow, so we finally get something early down under. This is a good feeling. You have to check your expectations at the door.

  • Just saw this last night...incredible analysis from you David and Peter Strauss. I had to read what both of you had to say twice because I was so mesmerized by it. I gave it 4 stars but based on your observations I'm thinking this should be. 4 1/2 to 5 star film. It's amazing how much can be seen in a film like this while other Hollywood mainstream films are busy making billions of dollars with little thought going into them.

  • Wow thanks for the kind words Josh! Still haven't seen it a third time yet, but I have now read the book. The film is such an amazing adaptation of the novel, I'd rank it right up there with No Country for Old Men as one of the best book to screen adaptations. Cronenberg balances being faithful to the text and adding his own voice and sculpting it into a cinematic experience.

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