Another triumph for David Cronenberg, Cosmopolis sees the director further extending the definition of a “Cronenberg movie” with a dread-entrenched, terribly funny, impossibly slick adaptation of Don DeLillo’s novel. Those who only saw a staid, costumed period piece in A Dangerous Method might also mistake Cosmopolis for an inert literary adaptation, but both find Cronenberg working well within his wheelhouse — there’s not just body paranoia in Cosmopolis, but existential and spiritual displacement as well, filtered through the cascading collapse of capitalism.
To be sure, Cosmopolis is often relentlessly literary, with large swaths of dialogue taken directly from DeLillo’s novel. Cronenberg doesn’t load up the film with visual fireworks — it mostly takes place in the back of a limousine, after all — but his visual storytelling constantly emphasizes the alienation of main character Eric Packer, wrapped in a digital cocoon of his own making, waiting for the inevitability of failure and death.
Robert Pattinson turns in an impressively controlled performance as billionaire Packer, an asset manager wunderkind who just wants a haircut, and is willing to traverse a dystopian, chaotic, traffic-filled Midtown Manhattan to get one from his favorite barber. As the torturously slow journey takes place in his ultramodern limo, Packer bets his fortune against the fate of the Chinese Yuan and takes a number of visitors, including his new wife (Sarah Gadon), who he’s having intimacy problems with, members of his entourage who he’s certainly not having intimacy problems with (Juliette Binoche and Patricia McKenzie among them) and his doctor, there to give him a daily checkup. The news isn’t great — an asymmetrical prostate that will be the source of unprecedented dread.
As economic tension causes the outside populace to erupt in violent and absurd protest, Packer finds himself being stalked by a disgruntled former employee (Paul Giamatti) with intentions to kill him. Whether Packer has much left to kill by the time he reaches his destination is debatable. After 100 minutes of detached coldness, Giamatti’s spark plug supporting turn in the final act introduces the desperate reverse side of the coin.
Cosmopolis ends up revealing itself as a perfect marriage of source material and filmmaker and an accomplished adaptation of a notoriously difficult author. It’s an uncomfortable, modern masterpiece.
The Blu-ray Disc
Cosmopolis is presented in 1080p high definition in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Shot digitally, the film is slick and bright even in darker sequences, and the transfer reflects that, offering a sharp, clean image throughout, even if some detail is lost in a few shadowy moments. The metallic color scheme is vibrant and even and fine detail is quite impressive in most shots. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is appropriately subdued but nicely immersive for this dialogue-heavy film.
This is a deceptively loaded disc, including a commentary track from Cronenberg and a making-of documentary that’s actually longer than the film itself. In addition to the cast and crew interviews on that piece, an additional half-hour is devoted to interview segments with most of the principals. The theatrical trailer rounds out the disc.
The Bottom Line
David Cronenberg delivers a fascinating adaptation of the DeLillo novel, and the superb Blu-ray release comes highly recommended.