What does a man, whose wealth, power and influence are so far reaching he uses a computer generated financial algorithm screen for a peanut-dish coaster, want out of life? Why, a haircut, of course. At all costs. Across town.
From the opulent comfort of his custom cork-lined silent white limo, 29-year old financial wunderkind Eric Packer (Robert Pattinson) travels at a snail’s pace through the traffic-ridden streets of New York, against his security team’s recommendations and despite the threat of assignation. From this mobile throne he holds court to his financial empire and is visited en route by his advisors, lovers and doctor; delectable appearances by the likes of proud local Hollywood chérie Jay Barruchel, the ever enticing Juliette Binoche, and gifted Samantha Morton to name but a few. Outside the tinted windows, the innards of the capitalist dominion he reigns over disintegrates as a parade of funeral and social revolt passes silently by. Like the withdrawn id of an ailing mind, or some lethal parasite traveling the congested arteries of a body engorged by lustful and greedy consumption, our protagonist slowly makes his way to the heart of the matter. There, some inevitable conclusion to our western world’s house-of-card current state awaits, in a closing two-hander denouement with none other than Paul Giamatti.
How cool is it that Cronenberg should be our country’s film directorial champion? He returns with a timely piece imbued with his signature dark psychology, heightened surreal moods and fetishistic lust. He apparently preserved all of the dialogue from the Don DeLillo novel of the same title when adapting it for the screen, save for the conclusion which he reshaped to suit his catharsis.
The contrast between crisis and emotionally detached dialogue reminds of other Cronenberg titles like Naked Lunch, Existenz and Crash. And he’s done the best job I’ve ever seen at making Toronto look like Manhattan. Toronto’s Metric provides the score. Teen heartthrob Robert Pattinson (Twilight I, II, III, IV?) may very well have found and executed his bridge performance into adult allure here, carrying the film’s every scene with bored intelligence, cool appeal and sang froid. A moody and timely existential piece about the nature of entitlement, the cost of wanton affluence and what every person, regardless of the societal “percentage” they belong to, really needs at the end of the day. Relevant, sexy and heady.
Cosmopolis open today at AMC and Excentris.