One man, one limo, one day: with Cosmopolis David Cronenberg took on one of his most difficult challenges to date. The tale of one man driving through the Manhattan streets with the intent of getting a haircut from his favourite barbers is hardly the kind of material that would have most directors getting excited but not Cronenberg, his taste for the supposed unfilmable has shone through again and he has turned Cosmopolis into a fascinating movie.
Cosmopolis as you may have already gathered follows the story of one man, that man is Eric Packer, played by Robert Pattinson in what turns out to be the best performance of his young career by a considerable distance. Packer is a 28 year old business man who is for all intents and purposes at the very top of his game, a master of his own universe. Through out the course of the day we see various people drop into Packer in his limo, his doctor comes for a full prostate examination, his body guard drops in with the occasional line of bad news, his financial adviser, his lovers, the list goes on.
The movie may be about one day in the life of Packer but it is a very eventful day, Packer is driving through Manhattan amid the occupy Wall Street protests making him the target of vandalism and assault. In a scene where Packers limo is attacked and vandalised Packer and the rest of the limo appear to be seemingly unfazed by the incident. Surreal and compelling, Cronenberg has created a world that feels apocalyptic, where only the limo is a safe haven for Packer.
The movie is buoyed by some fantastic performances; Pattinson has finally sunk his claws into a role whilst Paul Giamatti is fantastic as a former employee of Packers in an incredibly tense end scene. Sarah Gadon is also suitably strange as Packers wife, throughout the movie they share a number of strange and uncomfortable meetings which appear to have no little to no point.
Cronenberg has created a work of pure postmodern beauty. It’s not an easy ride but its one that should certainly be taken. One of my favourite films of the year. Rating: ****