FILM REVIEW: COSMOPOLIS

An unusual choice of lovers for Robert Pattinson

"COSMOPOLIS is a surprising film, ideal if you're looking for something different and are willing to go with it" ...Naomi
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Robert Pattinson. Photo by Caitlin CronenbergRobert Pattinson plays Eric Packer, an uber wealthy, intuitive man of the world, who spends his days doing business in a limousine, drifting through city streets while staff, lovers and a doctor come and go as ordered. His day quickly spirals out of control when he loses massive sums of money and his life is threatened by an unknown source.

Director David Cronenberg has chosen a high profile cast for COSMOPOLIS, although it's a surprising mix, especially the choice of women Packer has sex with.

There are plenty of close-ups of Robert Pattinson and he's in every scene, his character is tough, cold hearted and calculating, kind of a passive aggressive, financial vampire and he plays it extremely well. Pattinson is clearly trying to round out the scripts he chooses and building a nice portfolio of work.

The script is overflowing with intriguing dialogue, taken directly from the book it's based on. You could get caught up contemplating a particular line and miss several others if you don't pay attention.

I found spending time in the limo created a growing sense of claustrophobia, only broken by the coming and going of odd characters speaking fabulous dialogue, it also added a feeling of freedom to the moments when Packer did venture out into the real world. The sound outside of Packer's immediate vicinity was muffled, creating a bizarre distancing and enhancing the idea he lived in a world of his own.

As I settled in to the unusual style of the film, I was reminded of books that I read 20 years ago, in the way that it layered questions about how we will live in the future and what makes us tick. By the time the movie had meandered it's way to the finish I was enthralled and disappointed that it had to end. As the credits rolled the audience didn't rush from the room, but stayed and talked about the movie and then continued chatting in the elevator.

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Robert Pattinson & Sarah GadonI liked the pace of the film once I'd settled into it, there were plenty of turning points and surprising outcomes and I found the quirky performances presented odd characters, which I can relate to as there are plenty of odd characters that colour my own life.

Robert Pattinson, Kevin Durand, Sarah Gadon and the amazing Paul Giamatti, were my favourites, probably because of the dialogue, as that's the key here. 

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Julliette Binoche

FROM AN INTERVIEW WITH DAVID CRONENBERG...

How was the casting process?

'Interestingly, as was already the case for A Dangerous Method, the actors weren’t those I had in mind to begin with. Both times, it was part of the permanent reinvention of the film. For Cosmopolis, at first Colin Farrell was to play the main part, and Marion Cotillard was to play Elise, Eric Packer’s wife. Then, Farrell had a conflicting schedule and Marion Cotillard was pregnant. So I changed the script, adjusting it to a younger actor, which is more faithful to the book, and of course his wife also had to be younger. It’s much better this way. The real problem is when you have made funding arrangement based on the name of an actor and he walks away – it’s not an artistic problem, it’s a money problem. But this wasn’t really an issue for us.'

Did you think of Robert Pattinson right away?

'Yes. His work in Twilight is interesting, although of course it falls within a particular framework. I also watched Little Ashes and Remember Me, and I was convinced he could become Eric Packer. It is a heavy part, he appears on each and every shot, and I don’t think I have ever made a film on which the same actor literally never leaves the frame. The choice of an actor is a matter of intuition, there are no rules or instructions about it.'

A decade has passed between the writing of the novel and the making of the film. Did you think of it as a problem?

'I didn’t, because the novel is surprisingly prophetic. And while we were making the film, things happened that were described in the novel, Rupert Murdoch received a pie in the face, and of course there has been the “Occupy Wall Street” movement, after we finished shooting. I had to change very few things to make the story contemporary, the only difference is we used the Yuan instead of the Yen. I don’t know if DeLillo has stock accounts but he should: he has a remarkably perceptive vision of what is going on and how things are going to turn out… The film is contemporary, while the book was prophetic.'

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David Cronenberg & Robert Pattinson. Photo by Caitlin Cronenberg

FROM AN INTERVIEW WITH ROBERT PATTINSON...

How did you prepare for the part?

'David doesn’t like rehearsals. We didn’t talk much about the film before the shooting. And I only met the other actors on set, during production. I discovered them as they appeared, literally, on Eric Packer’s limousine. And it was quite pleasant. From the beginning of the shooting, I sort of lived inside the film, and inside the car: I was always there, it was my home, and I welcomed the other actors in my space, sitting tight on this kind of captain’s chair, with everybody visiting me. Being used like that to this environment felt particularly comfortable. Everyone else had to adapt to what was basically my world.'

Would you say that there were various styles of acting, especially due to the different nationalities involved, or that everybody ended up fitting Cronenberg’s mould?

'Oh no, there were different sensibilities, and I think that David was eager for that. Paradoxically, this diversity is emphasized by all the characters being supposedly American, except for Mathieu Amalric. Such diversity is congruent with New York, where almost everybody seems to come from a different place, and where the mother tongue of so many people isn’t English. Of course, the film doesn’t aim for realism, including about the city of New York, it never insists on a precise location. But having actors with different backgrounds mirrors New York, just as it contributes to the strangeness and abstraction of the film.'

Do you remember Cronenberg having any particular demands, focusing on certain points when working together?

'He insisted that we had to say the dialogues exactly as they were written, to the letter. He wouldn’t tolerate any variation. The screenplay depends to a large extent on rhythm, we had to comply with that as far elocution was concerned. He was positive about that, so he made very little takes, which I found quite scary. On Paul Giamatti’s first day on set, Paul delivered in one breath his character’s long monologue, certainly the longest line in the whole film, and David shot it in a single take. It was done, we moved on. I was enthralled with Paul’s performance, with David’s promptness, and with the way he looked so sure the take was good.'

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Paul Giamatti & Robert Pattinson

A FEW CAST & CREW...

ROBERT PATTINSON, JULIETTE BINOCHE, SARAH GADON, MATHIEU AMALRIC, JAY BARUCHEL, KEVIN DURAND, K’NAAN, EMILY HAMPSHIRE, SAMANTHA MORTON, PAUL GIAMATTI

DIRECTOR: DAVID CRONENBERG

SCREENPLAY: DAVID CRONENBERG, BASED ON A NOVEL BY DON DE LILLO

CINEMATOGRAPHER: PETER SUSCHITZKY ASC

PRODUCTION DESIGNER: ARV GREYWAL

EDITOR: RONALD SANDERS CCE ACE

COSTUME DESIGNER: DENISE CRONENBERG

MUSIC: HOWARD SHORE

LINE PRODUCER: JOSEPH BOCCIA

CASTING: DEIRDRE BOWEN CDC

PRODUCORS: PAULO BRANCO, MARTIN KATZ

EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: GREGOIRE MELIN, EDOUARD CARMIGNAC, RENEE TAB, PIERRE-ANGE LE POGAM

COSMOPOLIS is out now