According to press notes, David Cronenberg’s pretentious contemporary thriller examines our obsession with power, money, control, information, technology, violence, sex, mortality, revolution, destruction and, ultimately, redemption.
When hotshot investment tycoon Eric Packer (Robert Pattinson) wants a haircut and gets into his enormous white stretch limo to cross midtown Manhattan, his driver encounters infuriating traffic gridlock en route to his father’s old barbershop. The President is in town with his motorcade, anti-capitalist demonstrations are erupting and there’s a funeral for a rapper named Little Fox. Despite warnings from his security specialist, 28 year-old billionaire Packer insists on proceeding, holding mobile meetings about his company’s massive asset wager against the Chinese Yuan. While his limo inches forward, suave, soulless, self-destructive Packer indulges in sexual encounters on the plush leather upholstery and endures a rectal exam which reveals his prostate is asymmetrical.
Working from the intense 2003 novel by Don DeLillo, who prophesied a financial crisis, prolific Canadian director David Cronenberg (“A Dangerous Method,” “A History of Violence,” “eXistenZ,” “Eastern Promises,” “Dead Ringers,” “The Fly”) has created a bizarrely stylized, incomprehensible global capital absurdist comedy that unfolds in a single day. Since the entire artifice is permeated by an atmosphere of monotonous claustrophobia, the limousine – with its tinted windows and high-tech interior that includes a toilet – is of vast importance.
In an interview with the New York Times, Cronenberg revealed that Packer’s limo was a “Lego-like modular structure,” capable of being adjusted for lighting, sound and camera. Following novelist DeLillo’s specific description, it’s Proust-like in that it’s lined with cork, like Proust’s room, to shut out the din of the surrounding environs. Not even the hum of the engine is audible.
Having garnered a huge fan following for his vampire portrayal in the “Twilight” series, Robert Pattinson maintains a detached, expressionless façade as the impassive, inscrutable billionaire, receiving support from Samantha Morton, Paul Giamatti, Juliette Binoche, Sarah Gadon, Kevin Durand and Mattieu Amalric.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Cosmopolis” is a cynical, futile 3, a total waste of time and money.