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Cosmopolis – film review

August 3, 2012

COSMOPOLIS

 Reviewed on Friday 3rd August 2012

Directed by David Cronenberg. Screenpay by David Cronenberg, based on the novel by Don DeLillo. Starring: Robert Pattinson, Sarah Gadon, Juliette Binoche, Jay Baruchel, Kevin Durand, Samantha Morton and Paul Giamatti. Running time: 108 mins.

Unlike others of his generation of horror icons (Romero, Carpenter, Craven, Argento) with the exception perhaps of David Lynch, Cronenberg has maintained an integrity of vision and mastery of craft which just keeps getting better, despite the fact he seems to have left the genre behind.

It’s only six months ago we were treated to Cronenberg’s last picture – the Jung/Freud gab and spank-fest A Dangerous Method and now we have Cosmopolis.

Robert Pattinson plays Eric Packer a twenty-eight year old billionare who, in the course of one day, comes to suspect that money isn’t everything and that something is seriously missing from his life. And that ‘something’ appears to be a meaningful connection with life itself and those around him.

The bulk of the film takes place in and around Eric’s private limo as he makes his way across Manhattan in the midst of a gigantic city-wide traffic snarl created by the US president’s (off-screen) visit to the city.

Although on the surface this film appears to be concerned with lambasting the capitalist system (which it does) – underneath there are many layers to be explored.

I guess the most pertinent theme I took away from the film is this –

Too often we find ourselves living in the past (through our memories) or the future (via expectations) to the detriment of the present – the now. This is what Eric is ultimately searching for – a connection with ‘the now’.

However, in Eric’s case, his search for meaning is hamstrung by his apparent lack of empathy.

If the film has a failing it is that we aren’t actually told what past events might have moulded Eric into the unfeeling empty soul he has become. Perhaps he was born a psychopath? A prisoner of his own genetic make-up? Or perhaps it’s society itself which created him?

I’m sure these and other questions the film raises will be hotly debated in countless coffee shops the world over.

Cronenberg’s resident cinematographer Peter Suschitzky’s lensing is beautiful as always and Howard Shore’s psuedo-electronic score gives the film a haunting dream-like quality not unlike his score for Crash.

And speaking of Crash –  I get the distinct feeling Cosmopolis is not too far removed from Cronenberg’s existential masterpiece. Actually, they could be bookends – in that both films deal with ‘a future psychology’ – where the pursuit of sensation becomes mundane and ultimately unfulfilling.

Perhaps this may not be as far in the future as we might think.

Viewed at the Palace-Nova Eastend Cinemas, Adelaide, August 3rd 2012.

Greg Moss is a film school graduate with a background in directing music videos and is currently seeking representation as a screenwriter. He likes right-brained people, feeding the cat and watching genre movies.

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