Watched Jun 21, 2012
Midway through Cosmopolis, Robert Pattinson sits with his on-screen wife, Sarah Gadon, in a quiet restaurant. During this quiet sit-down (one of many countless sit-downs throughout the film), he says that “It makes me feel free in a way I’ve never felt…” The reply to this dangerous, unpredictable statement? “Free to do what?”
Well, pretty much anything he wants, to be quite honest. With the tycoon lifestyle nicely tucked into his (expensive designer) belt, 28 year-old Eric Michael Packer (played with nihilistic cool by the poster-boy of the majority of teenage girls, Robert Pattinson) does what he wants, when he wants. The long list of these things includes cheating on his new bride (who he seemingly just wants for her body) with various women, creating unnecessary problems for his patient bodyguard (Kevin Durand) and shooting himself and those closest to him (with high-tech and low-tech weaponry), while seemingly forgetting or not caring that his capitalist empire is being dismantled by anarchists and events beyond his control, cent by cent. And this is only half of the content explored in David Cronenberg’s complex psycho-drama.
It’s just a pity that this is all that sticks with you. So much is skimmed over in Cosmopolis that it’s sometimes so much that it doesn’t even register as making any sense at all. For a film that is extremely dialogue-based and takes it’s time getting to whatever point that it means to get to, it over-stuffs itself with so much information that it would need at least three viewings to even begin to work out what everything means. At one point, Jay Baruchel’s Shiner says, “I love information!” Guess what, we probably would too, if you didn’t give us so much to chew on!
But, then again, this is part of Cronenberg’s twisted genius adaptation of Don DeLillo’s novella. It doesn’t just relentlessly throw you from pillar to post with rapidly unfocused conversations, but makes you enjoy it in a weird way while it’s having it’s wicked way with your head. While the dialogue that the characters (most of them are actually cameos from know-the-face-but-not-the-name actors) spew is devilishly incomprehensible, the performances are never boring. Take Mathieu Amalric, who pops up unexpectedly when Packer steps outside his limo (in one of the few occasions he actually leaves his ‘office’), delivering a well-aimed cream pie in the side of his head. His character (fantastically named as Andre Petrescu) boasts about how he has ‘creamed’ important social figures before, bringing some much needed dark humour to a film that is strangely devoid of much feeling.
But maybe that’s the point. Maybe you (as a member of the audience) are meant to feel as numb as Packer is during his bizarre odyssey to get a haircut (this is literally what it all comes down to!). Pattinson creates his character to be so chillingly calm, unfeeling and dislikeable that it’s difficult not to go along with his quest towards self-destruction, because of (if nothing else) our curiosity to see whether he deserves his imminent fate (which is excitingly ambiguous in the final frames). This is easily the best Pattinson has ever been, and is likely to be for quite a while. He challenges us to question where we stand on the ladder of capitalism and wealth, and how much we dislike greedy money-grabbers like himself. He’s brave, daring and, quite evidently, not giving a symbolic dead rat’s ass about his Twilight reputation…