Riding across Manhattan in a stretch limo in order to get a haircut, a 28-year-old billionaire asset manager's day devolves into an odyssey with a cast of characters that start to tear his world apart.
After getting into a serious car accident, a TV director discovers an underground sub-culture of scarred, omnisexual car-crash victims who use car accidents and the raw sexual energy they produce to try to rejuvenate his sex life with his wife.
After developing an addiction to the substance he uses to kill bugs, an exterminator accidentally murders his wife and becomes involved in a secret government plot being orchestrated by giant bugs in a port town in North Africa.
On the spur of the moment, twenty-eight year old Manhattan self-made multi-billionaire Eric Packer decides he wants to get a haircut from his regular and longtime barber across town, a difficult journey today if only because of the traffic gridlock from three high profile but vastly different events taking place in the borough, including a wandering anarchist protest, they who largely use dead rats as their symbol of protest. Through his trek, Eric, most taking place in his stretch limousine, meets with several business associates - some with as esoteric job titles as Head of Theory - and personal acquaintances, including his several week bride, Elise, a wealthy woman in her own right with who he still has a somewhat distant relationship if only because they don't really know each other. The start of Eric's day ends much differently than the end as his personal fortune largely hinges on external forces in relation to a speculative currency transaction, and as he learns that someone is... Written by
I wanna a haircut.
The president's in town.
We don't care. We need a haircut. We need to go crosstown.
You will hit traffic that speaks in quarter inches.
Just so I know. Which president are we talking about?
United States. Barriers will be set up. Entire streets deleted from the map.
Show me my car.
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"When he died he would not end. The world would end." (Don DeLillo)
Eric Packer, genial asset manager, sitting in his limo, contemplating about himself and his visions while playing with numbers that represent an immense fortune, behaving almost in an autistic way once he tries to connect with the real world outside. Eric Packer also as the symbol of the small financial elite that rules our planet, arrogant, shameless and above all what's common and human.
What happens when you have all you want? When there's no challenge, no real desire anymore? When the last goal you want to pursue is, like a real Icarus, to fly so close to the sun that you can't but let melt the wax of your wings and fall, very deep?
This is, IMO, the essence of the story in Cosmopolis, with that difference that the protagonist in DeLillo's novel caused his downfall intentionally, while the financial disaster we live in the last few years was caused by the megalomania of the 1%.
When I first read the novel, I felt confused and a bit dumb too. DeLillo tried to send messages that I didn't understand at all. Then happened Occupy Wall Street and the pie into the face of Rupert Murdoch, so I gave the novel a second chance. I got hooked by the very complex character of Eric Packer, cold and emotionless on the outside and in his actions, but so vulnerable and lonely once you got to know him better. He's a very sad example of how far people can go in our society, just for the sake of money. I've read the book 2 times more, just to enjoy the countless, thoughtful quotes and one liners, weaved into stylistic dialogues as only DeLillo can pull off.
So, why have I written about the novel in a review about the film adaptation of this novel? Because I think that David Cronenberg did a fabulous job in trying to bring this book on screen. As a real master he has chosen to stay true to the dialogues, taking the risk that people, just like me when I first read the book, couldn't get the meanings of them.
He took from the novel what could work on screen and left scenes out, that he thought could disturb or change the mood of the movie. In the first part of the movie, he focused more on the little world of Eric into his limo rather than to shift the emphasis also outside the car. Not that I don't feel sorry some scenes didn't make it on screen (the famous street scene at the end) and for me the reality outside, in the streets of New-York, could've gotten more attention, but I can see his POV and I can live with it.
In this daring exploit Cronenberg made sure of the presence of an excellent cast, with remarkable performances of the supporting actors/actresses for the short time they appeared in the movie. The biggest challenge of course was the casting of Eric Packer, the doomed capitalist, who appears in almost every scene. Once again, David took a risk in hiring Robert Pattinson, but he was confident and he was right. Pattinson nailed this character to perfection. Especially when Eric (as his world) starts falling apart, Rob showed how able he is to bring out the psychotic, insane aspects of human being.
This is a movie that makes you think, that can give you an uncomfortable feeling and mirrors what's going on in some levels of our society. I understand that it is a difficult watch for people who haven't read the book, that they are disappointed but never was promised that this movie was going to be easy. The biggest issue IMHO isn't the movie itself but the fact that, in theatre, you haven't a button to pause and rewind so you can hear the dialogues again and again. Once the words are spoken, they're gone and I can imagine people reacting like WTH?? Though the movie stands on its own, it can only improve your experience if you go a bit prepared to the screening. With my review, I've tried to help those who're interested enough to give it a try. For those who didn't understand and by that didn't like the movie: even Cronenberg and Pattinson didn't understand the story quite well, but they went for it and created a masterpiece. There's nothing wrong with not understanding everything. It doesn't make the audience dumb, it doesn't make the movie bad and it doesn't make a brilliant performance less brilliant.
Sorry for mistakes as English isn't my first language.
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