Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Cosmopolis (2012)

Director: David Cronenberg
Writers:  David Cronenberg, Don DeLillo
Cast:       Robert Pattinson, Juliette Binoche, Paul Giamatti, Kevin Durand, Samantha Morton


Riding across Manhattan in a stretch limo in order to get a haircut, a 28-year old billionaire asset manager's day devolves into an odyssey with a cast of characters that start to tear his world apart.

It is among the few films that I watched twice in two days and it kind of demands that if you don't pay close attention. First time I was kind of sleepy and on second watch I understood what he was really going for. So this was my third time watch of this Cronenberg film which is an adaptation of Don DeLillo's novel with the same name that came out in 2003. The resentment towards the 1% with the slogan 'We are the 99%' of Occupy Wall Street was realized after the 2008 global financial crisis and so the novel was kind of prophetic. To be fair it is not really the 1% but the 0.1% that Eric Packer (Robert Pattinson) represents. He is kind of from the hedge fund creed who takes huge bets on all sort of things based on what they claim to be the information that they process to spot things that others can't. He is married to a girl, from a billionaire family, who is pretending to be a poet and they haven't had sex yet. He lives in an apartment on the top floor of a skyscraper for which he has two elevators catering to his different moods (slower one with Satie's music to calm him down and another faster one set to some shitty sufi-rap music).  His limo contains cool screens giving him data from all the financial markets and he also gets daily medical checkups. Doctor that day informs him that he has got an asymmetrical prostate. He had made huge bet by shorting Yuan and things go tits up as it appreciates and thereby ruining his wealth. Over the course of the day he meets various people related to his business, his sex life and his wife who ultimately dumps him when she hears of his financial troubles. He then takes a self-destructive path and meets two people who wants to assault him to varying degrees of viciousness. 

The first hour of the film shows the staleness of the billionaire's life and he is shown to be worrying about pointless things like buying a chapel all to himself and denying it to wider public. The second half of the film gives a little bit time for those who are protesting against the system. They vandalizes his limo and are seen to be throwing dead cats as their protest, shouting-'There is a specter that is haunting the World-Capitalism'.  The thing is that, the film is not very one-sided. The creators are also criticizing the pointlessness of the protests and their motivations for doing it. The questions that film raises could easily be put by showing a Silicon Valley billionaire in stead of a Wall Street one. The problem with the 0.1% of the society is that they are almost invisible to the wider public and they live a life that is cut off from the reality of the rest of the population. This will help in fostering the discontent and help in making changes to the system in what might be violent means. This is exactly what prompted Andrew Carnegie to advocate philanthropy during the gilded age to get people on side of capitalism. It seems we are in a gilded age again with all the silicon valley billionaires pledging their wealth for philanthropic purposes partly for their egos and partly to be on the right side of the people. They are at least visible which cannot be said about the wall street assholes who screw up things but still get to keep their wealth.

Overall the film is great but it might not be to everyone's liking with its intended coldness. 2012 had two limo mindfucks with the other being 'Holy Motors' and both of them are great.

Rating: 4/5