Cosmopolis is a difficult movie, but not because it baffles the audience with its intellectual analysis of corporate greed and the calm mania of capitalism in a chaotic, animal world. Instead it raises questions over the depth of its intent, lacking complexity beneath the stylistic sheen and being buoyed along by universally excellent performances.
It is also easily the best film featuring Paul Giamatti in cinemas at the moment.
Robert Pattinson has been rightly praised for his performance as Eric Packer, a billionaire genius in his late 20s who conducts his business from a coffin quiet limousine. The inhuman serenity which Packer exudes barely masks the contempt he feels for the rest of the population, his wife and loyal colleagues included. Only the crumbling of his empire is enough to tease this dormant dissatisfaction into the foreground.
Based on the novel of the same name by Don DeLillo, the dialogue feels lifted straight from the page, and indeed probably was. It is delivered theatrically, as if part of an Ionesco stage play, which is a comparison made all the more appropriate given the enclosed environment of the film’s main setting and the bizarre behaviour of the characters.
The unusual syntax and absence of emotion is perfect for a Cronenberg film, but the stilted incongruousness which it lends to Cosmopolis neutralises any message which might be seen as a response to real world events. There are hints that this film could address the wider themes posed by the current economic crisis, but in the end it throws these out with the bathwater and focuses on the sociopathic tendencies of a single character. Unless you take Becker to be a metaphor for capitalism as a whole.
Outside of all this, Cosmopolis is at least dramatically interesting and engagingly written, while indicating that Pattinson almost certainly has a career beyond Twilight. It also bears repeat viewing, encouraging the audience to return and untangle the web of emotions that remain unexpressed.