Cosmopolis is a film adapted from a novel of the same name, by author Don Delillo, a book I am fond of and an author who’s style I truly admire. It’s tough for me to write about the film because so much of the book is still with me (even several years after initially reading it). The film, which I just viewed on Sunday evening, has stuck with me, almost as well as the book has, if not better. I find it a rare circumstance that I can go to the cinema and remember the movie I saw, the morning after. It’s a wonderful thing and gives me a shred of hope that mainstream cinema isn’t as dead as it seems to be. As far as books and their film adaptations go, in my opinion, this is by far the best I’ve seen. The film and the characters are almost exactly how I saw them when I was reading the book back in the hot sweltering summer of 2004. The narrative follows Eric Michael Packer as he rides around Manhattan in his decked out (and almost futuristic) limousine. The story takes place over the course of a single day, as his driver and security team try to get him across town. Now you might ask yourself, why is getting across town worthy of an entire novel, let alone a film? Well, first of all it’s a slow trek on the account of Manhattan having been nearly shut down as a result of a Presidential visit, a threat to that president’s life, but also on-going protests not too dissimilar to the Occupy Movement, a rave party, the funeral of a fictional hip-hop mogul (who died of natural causes, not a gunshot) and not to mention threats to the life of the main character, which are a vital part of the final act of the film.
One interesting thing about the film that stood out, not just to me because it was also mentioned by the Hollywood Reporter, is that the film and its marketing materials, on a visual level, look a lot like a high priced menswear advertising campaign. With Pattinson sporting Gucci and Chanel, it occurred to me how timely a story this truly is – especially with it’s on-going commentary on the economy and the wealthy men and women who seem to be getting richer by the day, while everyone else is getting poorer. There are an enormous amount of complaints on the IMDB forums about this movie and specifically the dialog, but if anyone read the book they’d know off the bat that just about every word was taken directly from Don Delillo. David Cronenberg, who directed and wrote the screenplay, didn’t veer off of the source material and this makes for a very lyrical and artistically constructed film.
What disturbs me is all the walk-outs that this film had, not just in my screening but other screenings that I’ve been reading about. One after the other, kids who were expecting to see Twilight – and some adults too – left the theater after a half hour into the movie and never returned. Other times people would sneak in and then leave after ten minutes, one person blurting out that the film is “so fucking boring”. I suppose, any movie you come in at the halfway point on, would be boring, since you missed out on a lot of information and haven’t had time to get to know the characters or the world in which they have been placed. As I insist on many films that I write about, independent, no budget, micro-budget or otherwise, I think it’s important that people watch films as a work of art and not a form of disposable entertainment, perhaps then you’ll hear the lyricism of the words spoken and you’ll see the importance of the story outside of just being a mechanism for eating popcorn. Perhaps then you won’t be so inclined to walk out. Better yet, avoid seeing movies just because of the names attached and try reading the source material first, or if that’s too much for you, read a breakdown of the film from other reviewers and try to gauge whether or not this is a film you would normally like, despite having your favorite star in it. This is partly why I don’t think stardom/celebrity and art mix well – it puts good performers like this at odds with people who just want him or her to do one thing over and over again. Pattinson’s work on this film is top notch and I have gained a respect for an actor I never thought about until now. The trade off is that he probably lost a couple of fans for it – but in my opinion they probably weren’t loyal fans.
As far as the depressing subject matter of the economy goes, according to the Hollywood Reporter, Pattinson told reporters that (he thinks) “it’s actually a really hopeful movie – you present a world that doesn’t make sense to anybody, which is, I guess, finance is the best metaphor for that – and it seems to have just absurd disproportionate power, and you say it’s kind of ending the world. But the world doesn’t end, it’s just a rebirth.” “Maybe I’m just a depressive,” he added, “but I think sometimes the world does need to be washed and cleansed. And that’s the hope of it.” As far as the perfect timing for the film, the marketing team put it perfectly when they included into the trailer, the line: “the first film about the new millennium“. To sum it up further, a quote direct from the film might work: “The logical extension of business is murder“. Such a timely adaptation I must say.