Spotting the accidental reflection of a cameraman on the front of a car in the opening scene didn’t bode well for Cosmopolis. And by the time the final credits rolled, the film had done little to redeem itself from the blunder at the beginning.
David Cronenberg’s adaptation of Don DeLillo’s 2003 novella sees Eric Packer, a young and terrifically wealthy Wall Street trader, inching across Manhattan in a colossal white limo. From inside the stretch, Packer, played by frosty heartthrob Robert Pattinson, keeps tabs on his wealth using futuristic screens and ponders the demise of late capitalism - when all he really wants is a haircut.
On his way to the barber shop, Packer learns that his life, as well as his fortune, is under threat and holds a series of meetings with people who have stakes (excuse the pun) in his business or personal life. Packer’s associates climb into his giant limo, where they hang out for a while to yack pretentiously about Capitalism, have noisy sex or, in the case of his doctor, examine Packer’s prostate (a scene which, incidentally, is not as amusing as it might have been).
Although DeLillo’s protagonist is designed to be ice cool and unshakable, Cronenberg’s fidelity to the book makes for an uncharismatic and tiresome performance on the part of R-Patzz. And with so much action (or lack thereof) taking place in the back of the limo, before long the film starts to feel incredibly claustrophobic. As it looped on, I found myself urging Packer to get out of his luxury coffin, even if it meant certain death on the streets of Manhattan. At least that would be entertaining.
The film’s saving grace, though, is a cameo from the anti-Pattinson - the wonderfully expressive Paul Giamatti - whose snivelling appearance brings some welcome drama. But you have to wait until the very last scene to get at it.
Cosmopolis is a ‘day in the life’ movie and, ultimately, a story about danger. Sadly, though, when the day starts to become tedious, and the life at risk isn’t one you much care about, the result is a film as disappointing as the technical boob at the beginning.
Well, well! A verbose recitation of banalities, horribly stifling like the most sticky pudding cake, perhaps only saved by the direction of Cronenberg. The upside is, if you found this movie to be good, everything else will be. Happy you!