Friday, June 8, 2012

New "Cosmopolis" Review by Toronto Sun

‘Cosmopolis’ a perfect dystopia

Even if someone other than Twilight's Robert Pattinson had played him, even without the unsettling, undead attitude that the young Briton did bring to the role, the protagonist in Cosmopolis would be called a blood-sucking capitalist.

That is exactly what makes this quintessentially American character so interesting, both in Don DeLillo's dystopian novel and now in David Cronenberg's film adaptation. The fictional Eric Packer represents the dynamic and mysterious tribe of real-life Wall Street entrepreneurs who have corrupted the system and robbed the rest of us blind through greed. This is a post-modern morality tale that now intersects with the economic crisis of 2008-09, even though DeLillo published his book five years earlier.

Greed is still good ... or is it? Of course not. Eric Packer is an anti-hero, an outlaw, a parasite in the trappings of a peacock. Adopting a convincing American accent, Pattinson aces the role despite his panic attacks before the film starting shooting in Toronto. Super-rich, slickly dressed in gray, hiding behind sunglasses, happiest inside his white stretch limo in the streets of Manhattan, Packer is living the louche life of luxury and debauchery.

He has business meetings, sex with his mistresses and even one of his daily medical checkups inside the vehicle, which is crawling through the traffic-choked streets of New York. James Joyce's Ulysses is transplanted to New York. On the day the story takes place, Packer's financial world is disintegrating. His investments have soured. There are riots in the streets. The U.S. president is in town. All is turmoil. Reports indicate a psycho killer has targeted Packer for assassination.

Yet all Packer seems to want, besides a quick fix for his own economic meltdown, is a haircut at the cross-town barber who gave him his first one as a child. The odyssey perplexes Packer's security chief. It will seal all their fates.

Cronenberg, the famed Toronto filmmaker whose recent films include A Dangerous Method, Eastern Promises and A History of Violence, wrote his adaptation of DeLillo's novel in a mere six days. The key was that he admired the book's dialogue and that he could and did transpose large segments into the screenplay, while restructuring and slimming down the narrative.

While Cronenberg likes to call himself lazy (I think it's his sense of humour), he busily assembled an intriguing cast and put them to work with a flourish. You get the wonderfully virile Kevin Durand as the security chief; Sarah Gadon as the icy blond princess who refuses Packer sex as his new wife; and Juliette Binoche as his mature lover. The trio of Emily Hampshire, Jay Baruchel and Samantha Morton are among Packer's business advisors. But Paul Giamatti -- the only American in a co-starring role -- plays opposite Pattinson in a 22-minute duet at the end that becomes both the climax and the conscience of the enterprise.

Cosmopolis will certainly baffle some, bore others. I cannot imagine what Twihards will think. But it is intelligent and stylish cinema, an antidote to the time-wasters than occupy so many theatres during the silly summer season.

This film is rated 14A

Credit => Toronto Sun / Via => Thinking of Rob

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