A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
"Cosmopolis" is a flawlessly directed film about enigmatic people who speak in morose epigrams about vague universal principles they show no sign of understanding. Its characters are bloodless, their speech monotone. If there are people like this, I hope David Cronenberg's film is as close as I ever get to them. You couldn't pay me to see it again.
The movie stars Robert Pattinson, as Eric Packer, a loathsome billionaire monster, a young master of Wall Street who seems to perceive no connection between his wealth and its results in the world. He has sex several times in the film and reveals less genuine passion than during a prostate examination. During the course of a day, his fortune seems to be melting away, hemorrhaging millions a minute, but c'est la vie. He has recently married a rich woman who assures him she can help him, and he regards her with the detachment of an incurious insect.
The movie is based on a novel by Don DeLillo, which I read and rather admired. It's said to be loosely inspired by James Joyce's Ulysses. Very loosely. Yes, it involves the hero's journey across a city during a single day, and yes, it hears several vernaculars. But the film and the novel both lack any trace of Joyce's humor and rich humanity. Here is a stark, forbidding portrait of the damned in a hell of their making.
As the film opens, Packer stands on the sidewalk in front of what is possibly his office tower and states without emotion, "We need a haircut." As Pattinson plays Packer, he states everything without emotion. All of the criticisms you may have heard or held about Pattinson's performances as the vampire Edward in the "Twilight" (2008) films only serve to underline that he is perfectly cast as Packer.
He enters his improbably long white stretch limousine, lengthy enough for a Mafia wedding, and sets off across Manhattan to his usual barbershop. It is not a good day for this journey. The city is experiencing gridlock cubed, because of a presidential motorcade, a rap star's funeral and anarchist riots. Packer doesn't care, and he, and we, will spend from morning to night mostly inside the limousine.