A man in a limo travels across town to get a haircuts whilst the world outside the limo is going crazy. What if I were to say the great performance of the man in the limo is played by Robert Pattinson. Yes, the former vampire/human disco ball from the Twilight series runs the show and is fantastic. If you’re doubtful of this being possible, let me prove that it is and read my review after the jump.
Eric Packer, one of the wealthiest men alive picks the day the city is in turmoil over the arrival of the president, to travel over to the other side of town to get a haircut. Each second he spends in his limo, he loses millions of dollars. Does it bother him? No, he has enough money to not care, yet his day is made up of interactions with people who are on different ends of the spectrum to him in almost every possible way. These encounters range from financial analysts, disgruntled former employees to his emotionally detached wife and his mistress Their conversations are didactic, yet at times contain some emotional incentive, making his state of being the cause for worry rather than his bank statements. Is a world this artificial and materialistic beyond help? Does Eric Packer have the chance to maintain some sort of soul despite his rank above others? And exactly what does he get up to in the back of that limo?
I wouldn’t refer to myself as a simpleton but I’m generally rather ignorant when it comes to facts and ideas regarding politics or the economy – not intentionally but I’m generally that guy who continuously writes “human condition” a hell of a lot because that’s what draws my attention above all things. This serves more as a warning rather than a personal synopsis of my tastes, as Cosmopolis is a film I don’t entirely understand due to some of my ignorance; but in saying that, It’s one I related with, was affected by and could very well be one of the greater observation pieces on humanity I’ve seen.
Each encounter breaks the mold of contemporary financial jargon and starts becoming personal, as the day continues into night. We begin with talks of Packer’s financial woes to his security, then moving on to the failing economy that has affected those who enter the limo or appear alongside it. It’s less about the money he’s losing, but more of the what money and social stature have done to him and what remains of his soul. The more emotional the film becomes, the less financially successful the people he meets truly are; and yet they reveal more about themselves as people, and Packer has to leave his beloved limo to interact with them.
One scene in particular involves Packer speaking with his driver, who talks of once being a cab driver and how happy he was. Working 12 hour shifts and keeping all necessities with him in the front seat, Packer simply listens and looks at him with admiration and confusion. We resonate more with the cab driver but we’ve been with Packer from minute one, we’re fascinated with him and what he’s discovered by simply getting out of his limo and stepping away from material possessions and his infamous stature as a rich playboy. It proves to be a touching and affecting scene. We’re challenged as an audience from the beginning, listening to dialogue that is heavy on jargon and a large vocabulary that far exceeds the day-to-day one we converse in.
Yet it’s in my opinion that it makes us LISTEN to every word said, demanding our attention and doesn’t once let us get the hell out of that limo which is basically a physical and metaphorical extension of Packer. He does EVERYTHING in that limo which plays as a shield to a word that’s “beneath” him; but as the day progresses and the quest for a haircut on the other side of town proves all the more difficult, he’s forced to step away from that shield and confront the people who made him who he is, no matter how ugly it may seem.
This is a film that you may think you don’t understand at times, but you’ll still connect with in some way if you allow yourself to. Performances are stellar [even from Pattinson] and I believe that this a career best from director David Cronenberg. Cosmopolis is something special from the man who specializes in studies of the human body and its decay, as well as how that decay interferes with one’s psyche. This film is one you’ll want to keep talking and talking about, if only you can leave the limo so you’re not talking to yourself.
By Chris Elena
Cosmopolis is out now on DVD and Blu-ray
Director: David Cronenberg
Writer(s): David Cronenberg, Don DeLillo (Novel)
Starring: Robert Pattinson, Paul Giamatti, Juliette Binoche, Kevin Durand, Sarah Gadon
Runtime: 109 Minutes
Release Date(s): Australia: August 2, 2012; New Zealand: No release date listed, USA: August 17, 2012