How would David Cronenberg follow up 'A Dangerous Method'? That movie, while not bad, hardly built on the momentum established with 'A History of Violence' and 'Eastern Promises.' It was very sedate and restrained.
This time around, he decided to adapt Don DeLillo's novel 'Cosmopolis' into a feature film.
Eric Packer (Robert Pattinson) is a twenty eight year old billionaire who wants to go across Manhattan to get a haircut. Ummm..okay? He does so in his highly customized and reinforced stretch limousine that doubles as his office. The streets are bustling with activity because of a funeral procession, the president is in town and there is a huge anti-capitalism protest going on city-wide. Going to this particular barber is going to take all day. Packer's security team isn't happy about this because there are a number of threats against his life that they have not yet identified.
Their boss is unperturbed, he wants a haircut from a specific barber. While all of this is going on, Packer's company is losing hundreds of millions of dollars because of the fluctuation of the yuan. No big deal.
Will Packer get his haircut? Is someone going to succeed in murdering him?
Much of this movie is just Packer riding around in his limo, insulated from the mayhem going on in the streets around him. Occasionally, he will pick up one of his employees and have a discussion in the vehicle. He has a doctor examine him in the limo on a daily basis. Sometimes, he stops to talk with his detached wife and sometimes he has sexual encounters with other women. Most of these exchanges amount to the other character on the screen delivering monologues that are meant to be deep.
Throughout the film, Packer never seems to be worried that someone is trying to kill him. Even in a climactic scene when he is being shot at, he casually walks toward the building where his assailant is firing from, never once trying to dodge any oncoming bullets. It's hard to be concerned about the safety of a character who doesn't seem to care about himself. The other interpretation of the behavior is that his ego is so large, he doesn't deem any threat to be credible. Yet another could be that he sees his death as an inevitability.
Despite the narrative stagnation and the verbose nature of the story, there are a few brief scenes of violence just to remind you who made this film. Some of them might not add much to the story or seem to be logical, but it does break up the monotony.
Some of your sympathy for Packer could also relate to your thoughts on the Occupy movement. The film seems to have fun bringing that up (without actually naming it).
No one should be surprised by Pattinson's leaden performance, he did similar work in the 'Twilight' movies. Late in the story, his character does some shockingly impulsive things, but aside from that, it is almost impossible to get a reaction out of the character despite all that goes on around him.
Juliette Binoche, Samantha Morton, Kevin Durand, and Paul Giamatti all pop in here to say their pieces and do what they can with the lines they are given. Durand especially has a heavy load to bear but he is a highlight as the head of Packer's overworked security.
Special features include: a look behind the scenes (that is actually longer than the movie itself) and a trailer.
David Cronenberg has proven himself to be brave in adapting books which have been said to be unfilmable. Like it or not, seeing 'Naked Lunch' is an unforgettable cinematic experience. The same can't be said for 'Cosmopolis.' This is just a dull movie that thinks it has a lot more to say than it really does.
This examiner couldn't get through the book and didn't especially enjoy getting through the movie.
Rated R 109 minutes 2013