Combustible Celluloid
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With: Robert Pattinson, Juliette Binoche, Sarah Gadon, Mathieu Amalric, Jay Baruchel, Kevin Durand, K'Naan, Emily Hampshire, Samantha Morton, Paul Giamatti, Philip Nozuka, Patricia McKenzie
Written by: David Cronenberg, based on a novel by Don DeLillo
Directed by: David Cronenberg
MPAA Rating: R for some strong sexual content including graphic nudity, violence and language
Running Time: 108
Date: 05/25/2012

Cosmopolis (2012)

4 Stars (out of 4)

The Beauty of the Lopsided

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Directed by David Croneneberg, who adapted it from Don DeLillo's 2003 novel, Cosmopolis is a deeply subversive, deeply intelligent movie for grownups. It's also a brilliant vehicle for Cronenberg's pet theme: the elusive point at which thought meets the human body.

A million miles from Twilight, Robert Pattinson stars as Eric Packer, a 28 year-old multi-billionaire. "We want a haircut," he announces to his security man (Kevin Durand), referring to himself in the plural. And he is two people: a figurehead and a symbol of wealth, as well as a flesh-and-blood human being.

And so he sets off on a long, one-day odyssey across New York City, riding in an absurd stretch limo, creeping through sinister traffic clogged by a visit from the U.S. President and the funeral of a hip-hop star.

While riding, he meets with several people, employees, consultants, advisors, and what have you, but also his doctor for his daily checkup. The doctor announces that Packer has an "asymmetrical prostate."

He also runs into his new wife (Sarah Gadon), three times, and each time invites her to eat. They sometimes talk about sex. But in the meantime Packer sleeps with two mistresses (Juliette Binoche and Patricia McKenzie) during the course of the day.

Finally, in addition to all these other bodily functions and fluids, we can add blood to the mixture as Packer faces off with a man who wishes to kill him.

The movie's dialogue is a thing of beauty, glorious phrases that tickle the actors' tongues and then dissipate far too quickly. They describe business, money, wealth, deals, etc., in airy, dreamy terms as the city creeps by silently out the limo's windows.

But it's humans that have these ideas, and humans sweat, get hungry, get tired, crave sex, feel anxiety, and feel pain. As the movie goes on, Packer in particular gets more and more disheveled, losing his sunglasses, tie, and jacket, and finally ending up with pie in his hair and half a haircut.

Cronenberg weaves between all this, from the quest for perfection, to when Packer's would-be killer refers to the "beauty of the lopsided."

Cosmopolis is not an easy movie, but it's worth the effort. It taps into our dark and troubled financial times not by cursing the rich, but by viewing them as distorted. Highly sheltered, they move in weird directions, like plants bending to find the sunlight. And nothing, not even $10 billion, can stop them from being human.

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