'Cosmopolis' (2012)





There is a scene 3/4 of the way through 'Cosmopolis' where Paul Giamattis character, Benno Levin, and Robert Pattinsons' Eric Parker, debate Levins hire-ability. Levin is angered that despite admitting that Levins smell is what holds him back, Parker insists he smells worse. Even in defeat Parker, still must win. This is 'Cosmopolis' in a nutshell. It's a film that by all rights should fail over and over again, but due to the principals involved it succeeds more than any film I've seen in a very long time.

Eric Parker (Pattinson) is a man who divides his time into microseconds, while at the same time being irrationally afraid of it's passage. He is the brainchild behind a company that makes billions trading in the foreign currency market. His team has developed software that can interpret and act upon currency trading data in fractions of seconds. At 28, he already feels old. Rubbing elbows with the upper one percent has left him uninspired and disillusioned. He constantly lives in fear of time and profit - which he feels are equally important -  slipping through his fingers.

Waking up this particular day he feels he needs a haircut. Despite the warnings against pursuing such an action from his personal bodyguard that the president is in town and getting across Manhattan will be a nightmare, Parker insists. What follows is a series of events and interactions that both aid and hinder Parkers travels across the city. I'm not going to get into the specific interactions because to spoil them takes way too much away from the film. Parker finally gets his haircut, well most of one anyway before running afoul of a former employee (Giamatti) who causes Parker to not only question his existence and priorities, but also find some sort of peace in the last frames of the film. Herein is where Cronenberg cements the film with his genius.

Essentially, 'Cosmopolis' is a two set, off Broadway play. The first 2/3rds of the film takes place either in the immediate vicinity or inside of Parkers limo, with the rest of the film a two person piece between Pattinson and Giamatti. It's the last part of the film that vaults it from wordy, pseudo-'American Psycho' ripoff to genius work. Pattinson who is passable, if a bit bland, through the first part of the film really shines when he is able to play off Giamatti. Pattinson shows he really can act, showing over and over again just how horrid the source material on the 'Twilight' series is. But the real star here is Cronenberg. He never opens up the scope of the film. It feels tight, yet never claustrophobic or suffocating. None of the outside the limo locations are expansive, even the few outside scenes are shot close to the vest. Add to that the fact that Cronenberg adapted the script from Don DeLillos seminal novel in only 7 days and it just goes to show you how much of a genius he is.

'Cosmopolis' won't be for everyone. It's very talk heavy throughout. It's certainly not a horror film, unless you consider Parkers idiosyncrasies horrific (which they certainly are). The subject matter will turn people off, the world of high finance, can be a hard one to keep peoples attention. If your favorite movies include 'Transformers' or 'Battleship' you will hate this film, but if you're a Cronenberg fan or just a fan of masterful performances, check this out, you won't be disappointed.




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