Saturday, 28 July 2012


Icon Film Distribution
Now Showing

Set in the not-too-distant future where the advances in technology are only slight but the gap between the haves and the have nots has continued to grow, Canadian auteur David Cronenberg's Cosmopolis, like his previous film A Dangerous Method, is a talk-fest with sex replaced this time round by economics.

Eric Packer (Robert Pattinson) is a young, hot shot futures trader who's made millions on the stock market by anticipating its trends, or listening to those who do. But on this particular day, when he's off to get his hair cut at an old New York neighbourhood barber shop across town, the bottom seems to have fallen out of the market and, as a consequence, his golden existence.

Packer's security detail (Kevin Durand) has also received a threat against the trader, and with the have nots seemingly taking to the streets en masse, travelling in a white stretch limousine -- where he conducts a series of meetings with various hangers on -- may not have been the wisest of moves; slow moving traffic and hostile 99 percenters not making for the safest of passages.

What it does provide Cronenberg is time for a series of cameos from the likes of Jay Baruchel (a programmer), Juliette Binoche (high class hooker), Sarah Gadon (Packer's new wife who he sees more on this day than the entirety of their marriage previously), and Samantha Morton (spiritual guru of sorts), who take meetings with Packer in the back of his limo and discuss capitalist theory or some such.

My eyes tend to glaze over whenever talk turns to things financial so I may have missed the finer points of these discussions, but to Cronenberg's credit, adapting his screenplay from a novel by Don DeLillo, I was never bored. And compared to A Dangerous Method, which managed to make the sexy subject of psychoanalysis a yawn, Cosmopolis is a much livelier (though sporadic) affair.

It's made even livelier when Paul Giamatti shows up. No one does sweaty nervousness quite as well as Giamatti, and it's his injection of humour and energy which enlivens both the film and Pattinson's performance.

Pattinson's Packer sits somewhere between Twilight's Edward Cullen and Bel Ami's Georges Duroy, and continues the actor's trend of being the most passive/vacant leading man in film today. But rubbing up against a live wire such as Giamatti brings him momentarily to life.

Following its lukewarm reception at Cannes this year, my enjoyment of Cosmopolis was perhaps as a result of my lowered expectations. Then again, I'm not a huge Cronenberg fan (I've regrettably only seen a handful of his films) and this film wasn't really on my radar to begin with.

But as far as talk fests go, Cosmopolis plays like a forensically cool theatre piece, no doubt to be savoured more by students of Cronenberg and economics but not without interest for those, like me, who are illiterate in both subjects.


  1. Excellent review, Dwayne. You liked this more than I. You were never bored? Really? I was so bored, and quite confused. I really didn't like it. The economic babbling, and the smug, pretentious, self-important drivel about the evils of capitalism etc. amounted to nothing. I liked the final shot - but not even the bursts of violence and sex livened up the proceedings. I like Cronenberg...well, except his last two...but this is no HOLY MOTORS ;-)

  2. Thanks for the read, Andy. Like I said, I had little to no interest going in so that always helps but no, never bored but I also probably missed a lot of what was being said: economics = zzzz. I know you're only joking but I hope people don't compare Cosmopolis and Holy Motors because they both feature white limousines; that would be kind of like comparing Annie Hall with The Avengers simply because they're both set in New York!

  3. I guess so. Interesting that two films have come out at almost the same time set predominantly in the back of white limousines, but yes they are very different. I was put to sleep by the economics. I actually think this might be an interesting book to read, but as a film it just didn't work. Nice call on the theatre - that's the second mention of the film as theatre today. I guess I had some expectations, but wow that trailer is misleading. It seems action-packed and intense, and like stuff happens...and then it doesn't.

  4. That's why I try not to watch trailers! Although I have found myself lapsing of late (Pi, Cloud Atlas) ;)