Cosmopolis ★★★★★

Packer needs to revisit this emblem of his past for the same reason he needs to fly his airplane or get tased right in the goddamned ribs; “money has lost its narrative quality,” and so has the life of the man who embodies it. Like a certain other limo-shackled protagonist from 2012, Packer’s actions no longer have a contextual framework to invest them with meaning, not just because the cameras are too small and the beholders too remote but because “money has started talking to itself”. He needs to escape this closed circle of his own rational design, this micro-existence of details and self-referential jargon, so dense and complicated that it no longer has a perceivable connection to the world of which it is an abstraction.

The funniest joke may be that this mid-life crisis premise is a road trip staple, complete with an A-list heartthrob looking to step out of supernatural sub-genres into the real world. Packer too must connect with the uncomfortable truths he once sought to expel from his consciousness, sabotaging his systems of self-protection and regressing to a state of human vulnerability (we find out later he was a very sickly child), if not death (Mark Rothko is Packer’s favourite painter). Cronenberg may well see Packer as a kindred spirit; his frames order his universe just like Packer’s systems, and the film’s visual palette occupies uneasy spaces between crumbling plasticity and flawless gloss, reflecting the Apollonian and Dionysian elements warring within his directorial style.

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