Cosmopolis has been seen and now Cosmopolis will be discussed. It will be analyzed. It will be debated. I love it.
The Daily Beast dives right in with their article titled, The Crush for Cronenberg’s Cannes Competition Entry, ‘Cosmopolis’
Michael Haneke’s Amour may have won the Palme d’Or, but David Cronenberg’s competition entry provided plenty of intrigue: an appearance by seldom seen author Don DeLillo, a reinvented star in Robert Pattinson—and a surprisingly topical subject. Richard Porton reports from Cannes:
Before the beginning of the Cannes press conference on Friday for David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis, veteran festival moderator Henri Behar warned the assembled journalists not to ask any questions about vampires or werewolves. The result of this blatant plea to refrain from barraging Robert Pattinson, the film’s star, with queries about his Twilight persona was fascinating. The tabloid press seemed distraught that they couldn’t focus on the teen heartthrob role Pattinson is known for. (When a British journalist asked Pattinson about implicit comparisons between his Twilight antics and his Cosmopolis role as a rapacious moneyman, Cronenberg assailed the question as “flawed.”) Conversely, the broadsheets appeared thrilled to ask questions of Don DeLillo, the distinguished novelist whose book provided the departure point for Cronenberg’s movie.
DeLillo’s public appearances are few and far between, and his diffident, thoughtful persona certainly was at odds with the festival’s celebrity-infatuated atmosphere. The author is known for dark fables such as Libra and Underworld that chronicle the dystopian aftermath of the 1960s, and Cosmopolis focuses on a day in the life of wealthy assets manager Eric Packer (Pattinson) as he zigzags through Manhattan in his stretch limousine. The trajectory includes encounters with various women and innumerable absurdist conversations peppered with the impenetrable jargon of high finance.
This is not the only sequence where Cronenberg employs large patches of DeLillo’s dialogue. Cosmopolis’s mordantly witty exchanges, which Cronenberg compares to playwright Harold Pinter’s repartee, cascade trippingly off the tongues of Pattinson, Hampshire, Sarah Gadon, Juliette Binoche, and Paul Giamatti. Some critics have complained that this dialogue-heavy film is static, theatrical, and uncinematic. But Cronenberg, who can certainly lay on the visual pyrotechnics when he feels the urge to do so, rightly believes that a restrained style is not equivalent to an absence of style and that, in any case, trenchant words can often have a more lasting impact. Celebrated early in his career for inventive low-budget horror films incorporating garish special effects, he has now pared his cinematic modus operandi down to the bone.
Pattinson seems to relish the opportunity to shed his image as a matinee idol and portray a predatory capitalist. Although far from the only young actor who could be envisioned as Eric, he is certainly effective in a less than sympathetic role. Gadon, who also appeared as Carl Jung’s wife in A Dangerous Method, Cronenberg’s last feature, imbues Packer’s wife, Elise Shifrin, with a combination of subtle intelligence and cool beauty. Giamatti, however, delivers the film’s most dynamic performance as Benno Levin, an enraged man whose anguished tirades sum up the apocalyptic mood of a society experiencing an ongoing crisis.
Cronenberg was asked at the press conference if there was an antidote to the despair that appears to suffuse this surprisingly topical competition entry. He replied that the fact the film got made at all is grounds for optimism. In a film industry dominated by blockbuster franchises, such as the one Robert Pattinson dominates, it’s encouraging that a relentlessly downbeat if intermittently witty movie such as Cosmopolis can see the light of day.
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