Written a few years before the recession that affected the end of the previous decade, Don DeLillo’s novel was intended as a visionary work. In six days, writer/director David Cronenberg penned an adaptation of this story showing capitalism as a vampire that sucks the blood of society. With Cosmopolis, the Canadian filmmaker delivers an icy and anxious film that revisits his universe, haunted by characters thirsty for blood, sex and money.
The choice of Robert Pattinson – a sexy vampire looking for critical respectability following his participation to the tween saga Twilight – is justified, the actor being perfectly suited to incarnate a cynical golden boy who takes advantage of a myriad of interchanging assistants in a limousine. Omnipresent onscreen, he seems totally at ease, using his charm and enveloping his character with a menacing aura.
Cosmopolis takes place in one day. The central character, Erick Packer, is a young billionaire and a finance guru. He spends most of his time like a silent recluse in his limousine, cut from reality, experiencing life through his tainted windows, TV screens and assistants – the filmmaker does a great job at portraying this confined environment. And when he goes out of his vehicle, it’s to have dinner with his wife to somewhat pretend to be normal.
The chaotic dialogues come from Mr. DeLillo’s novel, reflecting this narrowed environment and filling the characters’ existential void. Their complex nature might confuse spectators and you end up wondering if the characters are really passionate about the subjects they address.
Mr. Cronenberg’s film deals with emptiness. The limousine, unique setting of the storyline, goes through traffic jams, advancing slowly, silently, but inexorably. Some kind of a mobile coffin, it creates a feeling of claustrophobia that each encounter can barely dispel. The outside shots give a cheap and embarrassing look to the film, even though the filmmaker’s intentions are clear: he aims at showcasing Erick Packer’s emptiness.
With all those abstract and confusing theories, one ends up disconnected, becoming as indifferent as Erick when he witnesses a murder. By trying to systematically symbolize the emptiness of his character, Mr. Cronenberg loses track and his audience in the process; and this is quite disconcerting as Cosmopolis includes quite a few of the director’s emblematic themes.
Director: David Cronenberg – Actors: Robert Pattinson, Samantha Morton – Running time: 1:48 – Year: 2012 – Country: USA, Canada