Descent into Random Chaos

Cosmopolis

cosmopolis_ver2

Published in 2003, American writer Don DeLillo’s philosophic diatribe on the randomness of contemporary American culture showcases a society on the brink of paranoia, valueless violence and dysfunctional oligarchs, Cosmopolis was originally praised by literary critics as a prediction of a truly unpredictable urbanized consumer society which thrives on wealth and more inherently lack of wisdom. Naturally the book is set in Manhattan, New York, the site of the 9/11 terror attacks on the Twin Towers and the heart of Wall Street, where corporate greed has run riot, a metropolitan pantheon of the perverse.

Cosmopolis focus on the young,  vain, egotistical and hypochondriac billionaire Eric Packer who trades in all the world’s fluctuating currencies from the comfort of his sleek, multifaceted stretch limousine. A vehicle, where he can have sex with his financial advisor, have his prostate examined while predicting the currencies in Asia, pour a vodka and unemotionally view the thronging masses rhythmically rioting on the Manhattan streets as they protest job losses, raising inflation and an impending economic meltdown. DeLillo’s post 9/11 novel, almost predicted with certainty the 2008 financial crisis of Wall Street rupturing the entire American Capitalist system as the collapse of the subprime mortgage lending schemes which crippled international banks and caused contagious economic havoc.

Enter Canadian director David Cronenberg (The Naked Lunch, A History of Violence), whose claustrophobic film version of Cosmopolis starring Twilight’s Robert Pattinson as the deadpan, psychotic bored billionaire Eric Packer along with a host of briefly seen international stars from Juliette Binoche (The English Patient), Matthieu Amalric (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) and Samantha Morton (The Libertine) who are all captured in a series of sporadic dialogues with Packer which ultimately serve no purpose whatsoever emphasizing DeLillo’s dissatisfaction with contemporary discourse and the apparent random rhetoric attributed to contemporary language, making for a quirky and unintelligible script, purposefully devoid of significance.

Whilst as a novel, DeLillo crisply conveys the descent into chaos and violence that Packer’s journey across downtown Manhattan will lead to, all in the search of a haircut, the novel’s perilous message is lost on the big screen. Cronenberg’s Cosmospolis does not convey many exterior shots of New York but like the novel confines the action mostly to the limousine and the diner, inherent symbols of American excess and corporate convenience: a dystrophic society ready to consume itself.

american_psycho_ver2

Cosmopolis is difficult to watch, almost uncomfortable from the random and bloody violence to the prospect of seeing Pattinson cooped up in a Limo for most of the film, and unlike Mary Hatton’s brilliant film adaptation of Brett Easton Ellis novel, American Psycho, does not make use of the Manhattan skyscraper iconography. Unlike American Psycho, Cosmopolis comes across onscreen as a pretentious film without much substance, but then that is conveyed more accessibly in DeLillo’s slim and scathing prosaic prediction of an American society consumed by greed, vengeance and mistrust.

Best part of Cosmopolis is the final scene between Robert Pattinson and Paul Giamatti (Sideways, The Hangover Part II) who adds an uncharacteristic level of deviousness to an otherwise thinly plotted but ultimately vacuous narrative.

Audiences should not expect stunning visuals or any cathartic release, after all this is pure Art House Cinema Cronenberg returning to eccentric cinematic form and not intent on delivering  a more substantial mainstream thriller like his brilliant Russian gangster film Eastern Promises.

Comments are closed.

Film Directors & Festivals
Reviews and Awards
Review Calender
August 2013
M T W T F S S
« Jul   Sep »
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728293031  
  • What Film Can Learn From Asia’s Rising Art Fair Circuit
    The rise of art fairs and galleries in Asia could contribute to an evolution in the traditional sale and distribution of films around the region. Film and video-based works are increasingly being shown in fine art settings. Spearheading the change in Asia is the giant Art Basel, which introduced a film sector to its Hong... […]
    Patrick Frater
  • President Obama Tries to Sell Hope in a Reality TV Landscape
    Wednesday night, President Barack Obama closed out the night of speeches with an appeal to America’s better natures that felt wildly out of place in the narrative of Decision 2016. His address to the convention was a mic drop — not quite as jaw-dropping as First Lady Michelle Obama’s on Monday night, but only because... […]
    Sonia Saraiya
  • European Pay-TV Giant Sky Sees Revenue Rise 7% to $15.8 Billion
    Revenue at European pay-TV giant Sky Group for the year ended June 30 grew 7% to £11.96 billion ($15.8 billion), while operating profit was up 12% to £1.56 billion ($2.05 billion). In a statement, Jeremy Darroch, Sky’s group chief executive, commented: “The group is leveraging the many opportunities of scale; sharing resources, insights, expertise and... […]
    Leo Barraclough
  • SNL ‘Weekend Update’ Roasts the Democratic Convention (Watch)
    Saturday Night Live traveled to Philadelphia for a special edition of “Weekend Update” at the Democratic National Convention, which MSNBC broadcast during Wednesday night’s coverage. Hosts Colin Jost and Michael Che, who also attended the RNC last week in Cleveland, riffed on DNC highlights including President Obama’s speech, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders’ troops. “Look... […]
    Variety Staff
  • China Public, Media Warming to LGBT Issues (Report)
    Attitudes in China towards sexual and gender minority people are currently troublesome. But they are changing along with the generations and increasing media coverage, according to a United Nations survey. The Survey on Social Attitudes towards Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Gender Expression (SOGIE) involving over 30,000 respondents and conducted on behalf of the UN... […]
    Patrick Frater