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Directed by David Cronenberg

Canada, 2012

Cornerhouse, 10 June 2012

Another unsettling film by David Cronenberg, a thriller set in a dystopian future that could soon become our present.

This rich kid, Eric Packer (Robert Pattinson), he is some kind of financial wizard and he wants a haircut.  Golden touch, yeah the lad has got that, but he’s also got debts to pay.

The journey to the barber is constantly interrupted and sidetracked: by the rich kid’s security advisors, the arrival of various members of his deadhead coterie, the anti-capitalist protestors on the street.  They take exception to the stretch-limousine he travels in, for some reason.

It’s a film of ideas as much as anything, the characters spout a bunch of reflections occasioned by the continuing financial crisis (or crises) and patterns and crookedness in nature (Luctretius go there first).  As such, it is fairly faithful to Don DeLillo’s novel.

Pattinson is a surprisingly good lead (I was surprised, anyway) and as an actor here he reminds me very strongly of James Spader.  He’s one of those clean-cut types, yet with a dangerous soup of toxic emotion lurking behind the eyes.

To dabble with the currency markets and the global economy is in a sense to play God, to mess with people’s lives, a world that matters.  Cosmopolis can therefore be construed as a variant of Frankenstein, a film about transgression and slowly unfolding horror.  With this film Cronenberg has come home, or at any rate touched base.