There's never any days off in this business as even today on the first day of 2013 there are still things to talk about and new releases hitting store shelves (the stores that are open anyway). For the first home video release of the new year we dive into the Combo Pack release of the film that explores the innermost mind and ideas of one of countries most innovative visual storytellers. It's time to visit "Cosmopolis".
Starring Robert Pattinson
Written & Directed by David Cronenberg
“Cosmopolis” takes us to New York City in the not-too-distant-future as Eric Packer (Pattinson), a 28 year-old finance golden boy dreaming of living in a civilization ahead of this one, watches a dark shadow cast over the firmament of the Wall Street galaxy, of which he is the uncontested king. As he is chauffeured across midtown Manhattan to get a haircut at his father's old barber, his anxious eyes are glued to the Yuan’s exchange rate: it is mounting against all expectations, destroying Eric's bet against it. Eric Packer is losing his empire with every tick of the clock. Meanwhile, an eruption of wild activity unfolds in the city's streets. Petrified as the threats of the real world infringe upon his cloud of virtual convictions, his paranoia intensifies during the course of his 24-hour cross-town odyssey.
Where to begin? Ultimately an interesting choice for Cronenberg as the film is very true to DeLillo’s novel and plays very much like a straight adaptation with very few of his touches being apparent in the end product. With a bare frame of a narrative story, “Cosmopolis” throws a lot of high concepts out at the viewer because it is not a film that is designed in the traditional way to have the audience make a connection with the characters but it wants them to make a connection with the ideas that it is presenting. The look was very controlled and almost self contained, but it worked given the nature of the story and considering that a fair part of the film took place in Packer’s limousine. The entire film felt in many ways like a self-imposed exercise by Cronenberg himself to try something a little different. Conceptually fascinating but there is the occasional moment or two where the story drags or it just tries to force something on the viewer that just doesn’t work. It’s hardly a perfect film, but for those willing to embrace this film as more of an intellectual exercise rather than a standard narrative it will work on those levels.
A loaded ensemble cast, but in other then brief instances it all revolved around Pattinson’s turn as Packer. He managed a cold and vacant approach to the role as he tackled the destructive nature of the almighty dollar looking for any new experiences that he could in order to gain some sort of perceived or actual freedom and was an interesting post Twilight choice for Pattinson. Canadian actors Sarah Gadon and Kevin Durand probably have the most screen time after Pattinson and both do well enough with their roles, but as each character represents more of a concept then an individual each feels separated from the other as any character development got replaced with concept development and delivery to the audience. The likes of Juliette Binoche, Samantha Morton, Jay Baruchel, Paul Giamatti, Emily Hampshire and Mathieu Amalric round out the supporting cast and considering what each actor is given they each do a fine job.
On the Blu-Ray the picture and sound are as always first rate and the special features on this Combo Pack release include a Citizens of Cosmopolis featurette, feature length audio commentary track featuring Writer/Director David Cronenberg, as well as interviews with the cast and crew.
At the end of the day, “Cosmopolis” was a bold choice for Cronenberg because the material didn’t necessarily translate perfectly to the screen, but it is far from a failure as it a very compelling watch that will inspire a great deal of conversation afterwards for better or for worse, just be sure that this is a ride that you are ready to take.
4 out of 5 stars.
"Cosmopolis" is now available to rent on DVD and Blu-Ray or On Demand at all video stores and providers across the country. It's also available for purchase from all major retailers like amazon.ca, iTunes and HMV.