Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Rat is the New Unit of Currency!

Cosmopolis (2012) - Cronenberg
Faithful word by word to Don DeLillo's source material, Cronenberg breezes through the one day in the life of the master of free market Eric Packer (Robert Pattinson). Spending most of his screen time in an indistinguishable white stretch limo, surrounded by glowing screens of charts and numbers and the interior design straight out of Prometheus, Packer conducts his daily business there. The president is in town. The streets are packed, with cars, protesters and ordinary people you will barely see or hear. It is Packer's universe we are living in, not the other way around.

There is a tangible threat to Packer's life, according to his high-tech security team. But he really need to go across town to get a haircut. Dialog is stilted and encounters are stagey just like in many of the other Cronenberg films. He is betting against Yuan (whatever that means) and by the end of the film he would be penniless. His demeanor doesn't change- he doesn't get hysterical or have a sudden epiphany. Detached as ever, his death wish gets fulfilled in the hand of a former employee (Paul Giamatti) living in a squalid building.

Cronenberg brilliantly captures DeLillo's take on the hideous amount of wealth accumulated by the Wall Street types before the crash. Packer's glass kingdom is done in not by the global protest movement, but by him questioning himself 'what's all this for?' He needs constant physical act to feel something- screwing, being voluntarily tased , shooting through his own hand. Juliette Binoche shows up for a quicky, only to be told by him to make an offer to buy an entire chapel filled with Rotko paintings, Samantha Morton drops in as his chief theorist and Matthieu Amalric cameos as the world's greatest pieing activist. Pattinson is perfect as a dead-eyed 28 year old master of the universe and the rest of the casting, impeccable like everything else about the film- sound design, cinematography, etc. You can take Cosmopolis as the driest black comedy in years- it's hilarious. One of the year's best.

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