Robert Pattinson gives one of the best performances of the year in David Cronenberg's unique film.
Released in cinemas 15th June 2012.
Following his interesting but relatively conventional thrillers A History Of Violence and Eastern Promises, and the intelligent but alarmingly strait-laced Freud/Jung drama A Dangerous Method, comes a refreshingly bold David Cronenberg film.
The man who brought us The Fly and Videodrome tackles Don DeLillo's complex novel, not exactly one of the admired author's most acclaimed works. However, Cronenberg seems to have found himself a new muse in the form of Robert Pattinson.
The British actor is a revelation as 28-year-old billionaire Eric Packer, who goes on an unusual odyssey through a rioting Manhattan, conducting his business in the back of his high-tech limousine. There's an oddly unsettling futuristic and dystopian feel to Cosmopolis, although its themes are scarily current. As Packer is chauffered across the the city to get a haircut, he keeps an anxious eye on Wall Street, fascinated by his empire's ruin as the Chinese yuan rises.
As Packer receives visitors to his bulletproof vehicle, Cronenberg keeps a cloying, claustrophobic atmosphere with eerie background silence during Packer's exceedingly wordy meditation. A number of actors appear as cameos: art consultant and extra-marital lover Juliette Binoche, analyst Jay Baruchel, Samantha Morton's deep-thinking advisor and Emily Hampshire's chief of finance, who gets a fantastic, unsettling scene watching Packer grimace his way through a prostate exam inside the limo. All these fleeting characters serve to further Packer's questioning on the worth of money, and his paranoia as a credible threat to his life is revealed.
Outside the fantastically designed limo the film loses its unique edge. Kevin Durand is on fine form as chief of security, but Packer's strained, telling relationship with his wife (Sarah Gadon) uses sexuality too obviously as a metaphor. The rich pair endure an icy marriage of convenience, bringing together two financial dynasties, but they never touch, and live separate lives. Their encounters in book shops and cafes are filled with Packer's constant requests for their marriage to be consumated. When Packer reaches his father's favourite barber, the story tumbles into uncontrolled, inpenetrable surrealism, thankfully brought back to earth by Paul Giamatti.
It's hard to imagine another actor making such a remarkable impact as Pattinson. In every single wordy scene, he is incredible, from his subtly twitchy opening frame to the warped sexual tension displayed during his medical exam and how masterfully he utters every challenging line, imbuing them with world-weariness and logic. It's a breakthrough performance for the Twilight star, who has consistently chosen interesting projects despite his heart-throb status, and Cronenberg's brave casting has paid off. Pattinson is riveting throughout - there is a maelstrom of fierce intelligence in his financial wunderkind, bubbling under a controlled stoniness. It's a layered performance, one of the best of the year, that makes the often pretentious and unrelatable theories believable and compelling. Pattinson holds this stagey yet visually memorable film together, even when it unravels unsatisfyingly - he makes the film worth your while. You won't see another film starring an A-list idol this brave for a long time.