Cronenberg’s “Cosmopolis” Unfairly Overlooked.

cosmopolis.limosceneLast year’s David Cro­nen­berg film, Cos­mopo­lis, seems to have passed most peo­ple by. Which is a shame, because it’s got an awful lot going for it.

Don DeLil­lo’s 2003 nov­el, on which it is based, cer­tain­ly seems in ret­ro­spect to have been remark­ably pre­scient. It fol­lows an obscene­ly rich and impos­si­bly young trad­er, played by Twi­light heart-throb Robert Pat­tin­son, who spends a day in his limo as the finan­cial world around him implodes and his for­tune evap­o­rates into thin air.

All the time, and all around him, hordes of anti-cap­i­tal­ist Occu­py-type ne’er-do-wells stalk the streets. But far from pan­ic, or even react to any of this, Pat­tin­son drifts aim­less­ly from hour to hour in a state of exis­ten­tial ennui.

The nov­el came out in 2003. And although DeLil­lo had actu­al­ly already writ­ten the bulk of it before Sep­tem­ber 11th and the dot com crash of 2001, it cer­tain­ly feels like it’s a reac­tion to the impend­ing sense of doom and Armaged­don that came in the after­math. Giv­en what hap­pened to the finan­cial world in the decade that fol­lowed, it all looks remark­ably rel­e­vant and feels sur­pris­ing­ly fresh.

CrashAll of this of course is clas­sic Cro­nen­berg ter­rain. Since calm­ing down from his ear­li­er blood and gore fix­a­tions, Cro­nen­berg has devel­oped into one of the most con­sis­tent­ly inter­est­ing and thought-pro­vok­ing film mak­ers work­ing today.

Films like eXis­tenZ (1999), Spi­der (2002) and even the appar­ent­ly con­ven­tion­al Freud and Jung biopic A Dan­ger­ous Method (2011) all explore ques­tions of our place in the world, and exam­ine notions of appear­ance ver­sus reality.

But it’s the superb and crim­i­nal­ly over­looked Crash (1996) that Cos­mopo­lis most close­ly mir­rors. It falls mid­way between that and Brett Eas­t­on Ellis’ Amer­i­can Psy­cho, as our hero descends on a Sty­gian jour­ney into urban alien­ation and exis­ten­tial angst. Where every­thing is sur­face, and life has lost all meaning.

robert-pattinson-as-eric-packer-in-cosmopolis_sarah_gadenPat­tin­son is impres­sive now that he’s been giv­en some­thing grown-up to do. And his Amer­i­can accent is con­sid­er­ably bet­ter than to ought to be, if the attempts of any of this com­pa­tri­ots are any­thing to go by. Apart of course from  Hugh Laurie’s, which is obvi­ous­ly a deli­cious­ly wicked joke at the expense of all of his Amer­i­can viewers.

The sup­port­ing cast of Paul Gia­mat­ti, Juli­et Binoche and the porce­lain Sarah Gadon as his even more dif­fi­dent wife are all flaw­less. And all look pal­pa­bly relieved to find them­selves in some­thing made for peo­ple of a dou­ble dig­it age and with a triple dig­it IQ.

You can see the trail­er for it here.

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