Well, if it isn’t the most confounding movie of the year. And that’s a good thing if you’re into that kind of stuff. May God grant you mercy if you’re going to Cosmopolis just for R.Patz. This movie was not made for the fan girl-at-heart, but for the sick people who like their movies to have a metric shitton of dialog and hardly anything else.
Cosmopolis is a fantastical trip through the depths of Don DeLillo‘s convoluted city the only way our driver knows how: through the dark alleyways of David Cronenberg’s mind.
R. Patz (Robert Pattinson) plays a cold, rich man named Eric Packer. He embarks on a day-long excursion in his luxury limo through a city in turmoil. There are madmen, riots, death, and a badly needed haircut to get to; but no matter, business goes on as usual and the movie revolves around his appointment schedule. These are usually just verbose, philosophy-laden, meandering conversations with one of his employees, but Eric makes sure to schedule time for sex and a doctor’s appointment along the route. All taking place in the back seat of his limo.
So after an hour and forty minutes of crazy tangents, wordy ramblings, and anxiety about an asymmetrical prostrate and underestimating the Chinese Yuan, my reaction was classic Cronenbergonian:
The premise tackles much of the fears and pitfalls of capitalism,the driving mantra of our economy. In one tense conversation in the midst of an out-of-control protest, Eric’s philosophy adviser tells him that the masses outside fear the future because there is no space for them in it.
Damn, and this is getting released at the end of the mind-numbing summer blockbuster? That’s a ballsy move, but so is the movie itself.
I doubt many filmmakers with sponsorship deals and Happy Meal tie-ins would get on the proverbial soapbox against capitalism. And yes, plenty of the imagery of the riots, protesters, and symbolic references (in Cosmopolis, it’s a rat), will bring to mind the Occupy movement. While many commentators have gleefully co-opted the language, I can assure you that anti-unrestricted capitalist sentiment is nothing new. Its source material pre-dates Occupy and was released during a time when the yen was competing closely with the dollar and we were in an age of economic growth.
As far as the movie is concerned, the cast is unbelievably impressive: handling dry and wordy dialog that could choke an English teacher. It’s all so subtle and serious, and clearly the best hat tip goes to R. Patz. No really, I may have to stop calling him that if he’s going to take acting seriously.
His cold-hearted millionaire asshole character is just the perfect mix of underacting, mixing sick amusement with the plight of the people outside and the insecurity of his problems internally and in the limo. Another standout for me was the Christopher Walken-esque performance of Kevin Durand, Eric’s limo driver. I’m certain the two of them were trying to out-creep the other. In several of the scenes, it almost looks like the two are in the middle of staring contest. But perhaps the most out-of-left field performance was Paul Giamatti’s as a former employee of Eric’s now bent on doing something with his life. I say bent, because like many of the other characters in this story, he is insane. What separates him from the others, is that he’s willing to act upon it.
This is not a movie for everyone. It sounds like dialog straight out of the book, meaning no one talks like this, and if they do -- run. We hardly leave the limo, making action only something to be observed quietly from the back seat. It’s no more gross than your standard Cronenberg movie, but that doesn’t mean it’s glossy or visually pleasant either. It wouldn’t surprise me to see fellow movie goers walk out of the theater. In fact, I expect it.