Cosmopolis is David Cronenberg’s driving excursion into the primitive mind’s attempts to grasp the virtual realms of financial second guessing, gestating math algorithms while cut off from it’s physical nature is pure genius. There is no mumbo jumbo in this film’s dialogue as some viewers complain, it’s just moving too fast for most people to understand. It doesn’t help that the revelation of these concepts can be terrifying in their prophecy.
This is Cronenberg’s best film to date. ( Wait, let’s not forget, Naked Lunch ) He doesn’t fear the difficult, he embraces the quandary or the paradoxical, realizing it best reflects real life. Cronenberg shapes the material into a cinematic labor of sublime skill, tantalizing.
This film has renewed my love of film, as a political power, to project meaning, transcending the toy spinning top Hollywood movies being propped up in our faces beckoning the death of cinema and the relevance of its past as an art form.
Packer’s on a mission to get a haircut, not just any haircut, it’s a hacking into his mind from the past and sculpts his future. The actual physical obstacles getting to his barber are irrelevant to Packer. His final arrival there is a revelation and an event.
Insulated by a surreal gleaming white ultra sci-fi, computerized, corked screwed cruising limo, Packer hopscotches his way over protesters, mobs at parking lot speeds. “What makes you think you’re not in the office?” The limo is standing still as a building and moving at the same time. You could be anywhere as the limo windows smear black at appropriate moments like a mother protecting its child’s womb.
The framing and cinematography is enthralling, choices of lenses and movement is invigorating, raising the film into high art. The integration of the visuals, high concept philosophical story arc and dialogue raises Cosmopolis to 3rd level cinema. Wide lenses stretch the squealing frame, adding weight and soul to Packer and his frequent eating sojourns.
Packer is desperately grasping for the physical: a haircut, food, sex, or direct violent confrontation. His haircut is an excuse to get to a specific physical place to have a real point of entry into the past. To tether himself from the mythical, hovering numerology of plummeting stocks while surrounded in complete, gleaming luxury the limo disintegrates in their descent together. The limo’s womb births a unbalanced child with a handgun, lurking alleys in search of it’s own self or self destruction.
Eric Packer ( Robert Pattinson ) transmits a brilliant performance that manages to contain almost excruciating angst that twists into liberation as Packer loses hundreds of millions of dollars. The loss begins to give him a freedom to destroy what has constrained his masculinity and mental state, while he descends into a neo-paleolithic philosopher that lacks the human morality of the invisible realm of gestating monetary numbers that surround his existence. Pattinson will become a powerful force in acting, beyond his Utopian genetics, and is a mental, emotional power to be reckoned with.
Packer constantly alludes to his loss of millions in a monotone yearning in different environments, because it can’t be seen yet it still surrounds him as he speaks. It’s a virtual haunting and the loss of his soul to his preoccupation with vapid millions which can only sustain itself in a realm of gossip and hyper analytics. Packer descends into a controlled frenzy of pushing his physical world to connect and end his pain. He is lost in a labyrinth that doesn’t exist yet controls everything around him, at least through his perception of it.
His wife, ( Sarah Gadon ) bleached and sterilized, married for her money and obvious vicious beauty yet cold as a gold bar on a winter night, denies Packer sex. Though her reasons can be rationalized, she is also what urges Packer to find physical sexual liaisons elsewhere, only contributing to her rational to exclude him. It’s a manipulation both overt and possibly sadistic, yet she quaintly offers any amount of money Packer needs. This once more resonates the value of money and the loss of humanity. There is plenty of fake, hollow cash right here, but if you want love, sex, humanity, a plastic mannequin cannot supply that commodity.
There is a credible threat to Packer’s life by a possibly fired employee infected with the same financial ghost of gyrating algorithms phasing in and out, destroying humanity without ever having touched or seen what it enslaves.
When Packer realizes his astute and dedicated security will not allow any potential threat to draw close, he promptly murders his bodyguard. Human life has become as disembodied from Parker as his millions burn away like mobile microwaves cook our skulls.
Ghosts conjured by Packer’s barber tell a wretched perspective of his money and it’s family origins. Pattinson’s eyes parade his restrained distaste. The barber, a life long family friend or confidant, hacks into Packer’s hair as though lobotomizing him and hilariously asks to at least make the other side match the axe-chopping of Packer’s right side locks.
The barber’s haircut is a return to the streets we ran on with happiness as children, only Packer can’t go back any more, it’s sour and swells his fears of the loss of his empire.
The Limo evolves into a Warhol scribble of dirt, color and twisted metal. It’s last journey, it’s technical expertise driven too hard, too far beyond it’s known roads. There is always a price to pay for the courage to go over the hill, especially if the hill is mined.
This is the present/future of our lives and to understand where we are going and how we are going to create, produce and live our lives, disenfranchised from nature, and the tangible more and more, is the question this film poses, not with on the nose dialogue, but through action, the slow degeneration of Pattinsons mental state in his search to recover his sense of self and connectivity to life around him.
This review will be added to in pieces and I am professing hope to gather the concepts in one final coherent post. Virtual Rome wasn’t built in a day, it was constructed on imaginary greed over decades. I fear this review may ramble on far too long, but who cares, it isn’t real, it isn’t on paper and I can’t hide it in my pocket.
Packers fall from Olympus is welcomed with his enthusiastic smirking glee, scrambling through alleys lke a wolf, free, facing death, tasting life. Finally shed of crushing millions, he dresses down, shedding his jacket and tie, leaving the limo’s warmth and embracing the cold air and grasping the cold steel of a gun.
Finally something tangible to use, control, choose and run with.
Packer’s would-be assassin, Paul Giamatti is his metaphysical best friend and they meet with quiet acceptance and acknowledgment. They need each other. What will end the futile grafting of monetary illusion over our physical lives, death? The acceptance of death, the opening of the door to the grim reaper, to give our lives purpose and value again.
We are all becoming more invested in a phantom life online. Our work, the money, focused on iPads, programming, stocks, start-ups and imaginary stock market numbers and debt.
I just want you to rent it now and watch it a few times, as I am going to do again.
I love this film and will buy the Blu-Ray and I urge you to do the same. To start a conversation I have with friends almost everyday. This film is that conversation, directed and shot far better than the bad coffee and confusing words, only there still isn’t a solution in sight.
What will stop the loss of our humanity, of tangible productivity? When there is no purpose or no method to recreate the false economy of phantom growth based on consumerism? When you have been saturated with all life has to offer, when you desire a relevance but find only empty sexual liaisons and false acquisitions failing to fulfill, then you have no mission as a man. With no crusade to fill the human heart with surging vitality of relevance, meaning, what level will you go to, just to feel again? What will you sacrifice?
I think this is going to hurt, and it should. It has to.
The trailer is exquisite.