Cosmopolis film review - Thriller Without The Thrill

In David Cronenberg’s adaptation of Don Delilo’s 2003 novel gives is intriguing, and replete with intriguing and thought provoking dialogue, but fails to give you the thrill this filmaker is known for.

Cosmopolis is the story of Eric Packer (Robert Pattinson), a 28-year-old multi-billionaire asset manager with a fresh new appetite for self-destruction. As he settles himself into his luxury, high tech, strech limo –which serves as his mobile office- he is fixed on accomplishing one thing, to get a haircut across town.

Although the limo is bulletproof the protagonist isn’t and he is on a one-way road to self-destruction. Packer's journey is obstructed by various traffic jams caused by a presidential visit to the city, a political demonstration, and a funeral procession for his favorite artist, a Sufi rap star whose music he plays continuously on one of his home elevators.

Along the way Packer has several encounters with his wife (Sara Gadon) who, aside from his constant insistence, refuses to have sex with him in order to preserve her energy for her art. Throughout their encounters she consistently accuses Packer  of smelling like sex. Packer replies that its not the sex he’s had she’s smelling, but he sex he is eager to have with her. Of course he is lying. They chat briefly and once again she disappears. In between these the protagonist has illicit sexual encounters with other women, meetings with his many advisors, and is stocked by two men, a "pastry assassin" and a "credible threat".

One of his visitors Didi (Juliette Binoche), an art dealer who is also his lover, informs him that the Rothko Chapel is not for sale. “It belongs to the world,” she explains. “It’s mine if I buy it,” he spits back with cold arrogance, illustrating the capitalist mindset.  Philosophies are strewn left and right thought-out the the film, but it felt like being ambushed by multiple philosophies and very little action.

As the day progresses Packer loses absurd amounts of money for his clients by betting against the rise of the yen,  a loss that clearly parallels his own downfall. He seems to be completely aware and content with this loss and his perseverance to get a haircut  from his childhood barber is unflinching. The barber, represents his lost youth and innocence. Its the one time where you have hope that something will happen, something will change for the better, but it doesn't.

As his limo is vandalized, his fortune is dissipes and his marriage coming undone, Packer seems to relish  in the loss. He insists of making his demise inevitable by any means. Not only does he murder his own head of security and shoots his own hand, but he also confronts the man he believes is the “credible threat.” Paul Giamatti is brilliant as Benno Levin, the former employee sees the assassination of Packer as the only possible way to gain meaning from his life.

There was much going on but Cosmopolis never quite felt like it came to a climax. Pattinson is no stranger to playing icy perturbed character with superior knowledge and an internal void he’s desperately trying to fill. In the end, it’s human experience that Eric finds hard to process and understand.

The film, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival 2012, is not the first Cronenberg film to question the changing and weakening progress of technology, eXistenZ did that while keeping you glued to the edge of your seat. Impending doom is eminent and clear from the get go, yet the seems to hit a plateau half way though the movie and never quite recovers. Sadly, it was a thriller with out the thrill.

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