Movie Review – Cosmopolis – 2012 – directed by David Cronenberg

Posted: February 3, 2013 in Thriller
Tags: , , , , ,


This film took me completely by surprise. I had heard the name kicking about but kind of ignored it (possibly because of Robert Pattinson and his ‘Twilight’ fandom) I so wish I had seen it at the cinema because it is truly a film like no other, a film that really could have only been orchestrated by Cronenberg.

The film is about Pattinson’s billionaire Eric Packer travelling across Manhattan to get a haircut.

Yep that is the plot of the film. It is the perfect example of characters over complex story. (Not that the story isn’t a bit more complex than him simply getting a haircut). Throughout his journey he meets many weird and interesting characters who all seem slightly ‘wrong’. not wrong in the sense that they are sick and depraved but wrong in the fact that there is something not quite right. It feels like each character has an alternative motive to meeting with Eric.

Eric is not your usual ‘nice’ protagonist. He is a manipulative, frankly unlikable individual who has something about him that draws you in. It is the same feeling that one gets from the film and the book ‘American Psycho’. Patrick Bateman is not a nice character. He has horrible thoughts and may or may not carry out horrendous acts but you still ‘like’ him. The same goes for Eric. He really is a nasty piece of work and He literally lives for himself and couldn’t care for anyone else.  The film revolves around him and we never leave him. Unlike most films where the director follows multiple characters, Cosmoplois is fixed firmly on Pattinson. To be fair we very rarely leave the limo that he is occupying. This creates the great illusion of seclusion from the outside world. Eric’s own personal space within the chaos around him. The best example of this is during one of the films riots. Eric sits calmly during one of his many meetings. we can see through the one way glass that people are vandalising the limo but Eric doesn’t care. He knows that when he gets in the limo tomorrow it’ll be all fixed.

The limo, being the main location of the film is also an interesting creature. It is not your usual vehicle in the fact that it has many ‘futuristic’ elements built in. It helps emphasise that the film is set in the world we all know but one that is also different. It’s believable enough to not stand out. This allows for Eric’s whole interaction with the outside world to be performed from within his ‘safe’ environment. There is a great moment when Eric asks the driver where the Limo’s are kept at night as he’s never thought of it before.

The world of the film feels much like that of a novel by ‘Haruki Murakami’ or  even ‘Kafka’. It feels very much like the world we live in now, only with little things that don’t feel quite right. It is semi-futuristic but not all at the same time. This never really takes precendance but is an interesting technique of helping illustrate the oddness and confusion running through the various characters minds. The same can be said for each of the city’s inhabitants that meet Eric in his limo. Each one seems like a certain part of Eric’s psyche. almost as if he is questioning his own actions. (Is he actually meeting anyone at all or is it all in his head?)

The whole film works as a study of how power can corrupt and ultimately distance you from the very world that you live in. Eric doesn’t care about the people he sees and it is only when people start truly questioning his values that he starts to realise he may have been living his life wrong. (although he may in fact be telling people what they want to here to further manipulate them).  This is where the film truly steps into a league of its own. The writing is incredible in its way of manipulating the audience, much in the same way as Eric is manipulating the world around him. Cronenberg uses everything he has learned in the 40 years he has been making films and has truly crafted what i would consider one of the best films I’ve ever seen.

The film truly seems to split critics and audiences alike. some hate the film and say it’s almost 2 hours of Pattinson doing nothing. I’d argue that this is the very point of the film. it is a study of human nature and what it truly means to be human. WE are all flawed and Pattinson’s Eric is just an exaggerated version of this way of thinking. I honestly believe it is like the natural successor to American Psycho (not in story or character but in ideology and feel). Both look at the human condition and how those with power can be the most corrupt of us all.

If you go into the film expecting action, sex and violence, you’ll be disappointed. There is a sex scene as well as some violence but it is never in bad taste or pushed to the front line. there is always a reason for it and generally something else going on as well. If you like slow meditative films that look at the struggles of the human mind and how corruption can take over, this film really is worth watching.

I will say that many may not agree with me, this is simply my take on the film. I loved it and really can’t fault it. As a piece of cinema it is truly up there with the greats and is an experience that I will never forget. 9.5/10

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