“You have your mother’s breasts”
The first, and perhaps most important thing to say, is that a quarter of the audience walked straight out of the screening I was in. A patron quite vividly announced, “this is weird, this is boring” and promptly got up and left with his possibly mute partner tagging along. And, the person whom I saw this movie with, who hasn’t seen a Cronenberg in her life, sarcastically thanked me for taking her to see this “awful film.” So, it’s fair to say, Cosmopolis is something of a divisive movie, especially when I thought it was a vastly interesting piece of cinema. It is a challenge to watch, and I can see why the endless and meticulous dialogue makes it difficult for a person to engage in the story. It’s deliberately alienating. It’s the cinematic equivalent of reading Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow. It is, however, a very rewarding film if you let it become one.
So, what’s it actually about? Well, um, there’s no much plot per se. The main character Eric, played by
R-Patzzz Robert Pattinson, decides he needs to get a haircut. I believe the opening line is, “I want a haircut.” And from then on we see Eric, in his limousine, travelling across Manhattan to get his haircut. This is no ordinary limousine however, it’s more of a spaceship, it has all kinds of features that a man of immense wealth, like Eric, would have. Eric is joined by various people along his journey, predominantly in his in limousine, and they have inhuman conversations about the markets, life, sex, love and other such subjects, but, nearly always, the conversation is steered back to money and wealth. And being a man of immense wealth Eric becomes a target, a target of greed, a target for the proletariat, a target for anarchists, and a symbol of capitalism. His wealth is a trigger for all that happens along this journey. His wealth is corrupting him in every possible way. The world is collapsing around him and he is viewing it, inorganically, inside his “Prousted” limousine. This leaves us with a road movie, of sorts, about capitalism. It’s very abstract, Pattinson described the character of Eric as ghost passing through the city, and it’s a very apt way of putting it as Eric doesn’t seem very human any more.
The dialogue in the film isn’t something you’re likely to find in any other film this summer. It’s a bizarre combination of a 21st century bastard Shakespearean language coupled with moments of pure Pintereque silences and wall street lingo. Pattinson does a very capable job of making the viewer comfortable- as possible under the circumstances- with what he/she is hearing. There are some incredibly witty, funny lines and a few lines where I had no idea of their meaning. Occasionally you can feel like the words and sentences are hitting you in the face and you can’t quite take everything in and process it’s significance. It’s nearly overwhelming in parts.
Three things struck me as I left the cinema. One, I would be interested in reading Don DeLillo’s (whose book of the same name the film is adapted from) work. Two, this film is going to have a lot of trouble finding an audience. And three, David Cronenberg is creating some of the most exciting and interesting films in the world right now. He might well have overtaken David Lynch and Woody Allen and leaped straight into the spot of my second favourite director still making movies. This movie is pushing boundaries of what is possible in cinema, it’s experimental, and I’m itching to see it again. It’s not without faults though, it’s motifs can sometimes pass over ones head and leave you bewildered. It also takes some time to adjust yourself to a movie that doesn’t want you to enjoy it on a basic movie-going level. Thus I can’t give it a ten out of ten at this moment, I’d need to watch it again and take it all in.
Finally, your average Twilight fans will hate it. I’m not entirely sure post-modern movies are their thing. It’s time for a hair cut now.
Marks out of ten – Eight