I can see why people can’t stand Robert Pattinson: he gets to be with Kristen Stewart every night. It’s okay, I know the feeling. I haven’t even seen the Twilight films and I know. I simply know. As the hyper-arrogant CEO of a financial institution, Pattinson does well to portray a young man living in a world just beyond his reach where every obstacle is merely some complex math equation away from resolution. Here, Pattinson’s Eric Packer just wants to get across town for a haircut. Too bad everything just seems to get in the way.
Cosmopolis is the tale of a white limo forever voyaging, more a montage than a traditional movie with co-workers and other transients coming and going without any notice. Packer’s limo is packed with the latest electronics, allowing him to keep track of financial markets at a glance. As the film’s primary set, the limo is so much more than a means of conveyance. It becomes the scene of a prostate exam – which Packer elects to receive daily – while discussing matters with his financial chief. It becomes a zen-like meeting room when his theory chief discusses the necessary purging of lower classes and older industries while protesters outside rock the car and spray paint their own rebellious scat on it.
When Packer isn’t trying to save his failing business, he lusts for everyone and everything he touches. He glances at a blonde woman in a cab the next lane over and hops in. They do lunch. As it turns out, it’s his estranged wife of mere weeks who promises they’ll have sex some day. Of course, Packer’s been at it in the limo and as she puts it, “reeks of sexual discharge”. We almost feel for him as he spends most of their conversation trying to get into her dress, but this wistful doll he’s married will have no such thing. “Be nice to me,” she says. Sexually frustrated and financially ruined, Packer pays no mind to the security chief who drops by his window every few moments to inform him of “credible threats” from “The Complex”. Doesn’t bother him. He’s stuck moving from block to block, very slowly.
Cosmopolis is a trendy, demonizing look at the 1%, portrayed as a group of sociopaths driven by the need to push numbers higher and experience the human mission less and less. As a result, it seems perfect that David Cronenberg (The Fly, Videodrome, A History of Violence) is our maestro through this long-form limo ride through class struggle and social apathy. The movie is just as cold as it sounds, so unless you have some kind of ironic taste for such topics, it’s going to be quite a dull watch. If you derive some sort of entertainment out of seeing such a highly placed white-collar worker struggle in the world, Cosmopolis might be just for you.