DVD Review - Cosmopolis

Robert Pattinson (left) and
Kevin Durand in "Cosmopolis"
Like with David Cronenberg's previous film A Dangerous Method (2011), this film is very dialogue-heavy. It's in fact all dialogue. It also feels very much like a play, like it should be performed on a stage. It's not based on a play. It's based on a novel by Don DeLillo. It stars Robert Pattinson (Twilight and Little Ashes) as Eric Packer, the head or CEO of a powerful company in New York City. The movie follows Packer as he goes from lower Manhattan, around Wall Street, all the way uptown, probably to Harlem or maybe the Bronx, to get a haircut. The movie takes place all in one day and takes place mostly within the confines of Packer's stretched limousine.

Kevin Durand co-stars as Torval, the chief of security at Packer's company. Torval is basically Packer's personal bodyguard. It's a role for which the Canadian actor is perfect being that he's six-foot-six and built like the hulk, a man of pure muscle. Torval is a tough and stoic guy but clearly cares for Packer. Durand, from what I can tell, is not that but is more a friendly, comedic and sweetheart of a guy. Because of his size though, Durand gets typecast in certain roles. He's been in many, major films as the tough guy. I first became aware of him in his memorable role in the fourth and sixth seasons of the TV series Lost.

Unlike in Lost though, Torval is not trying to kill anyone. He's simply trying to protect Packer. He tells Packer that he doesn't need to go all the way uptown to get a haircut. There are numerous closer places, but Packer is adamant. Torval reveals that the President of the United States is in town, which has backed up traffic. Throughout the movie, Torval keeps popping up to reveal other things, including an "Occupy Wall Street" style protest, which keeps traffic in Manhattan to a crawl.

This doesn't deter Packer. He stays in his limo and waits all day until the drive gets him uptown. Various employees of Packer, therefore, come to him and have business meetings in the limo. Shiner, his chief of technology, played by Jay Baruchel (Knocked Up and Tropic Thunder), is the first. Vija Kinski, his chief of theory, played by Samanta Morton (In America and Minority Report), and Didi Fancher, his art dealer, played by Juliette Binoche (The English Patient and Chocolat), are a couple of others.

Actually, Packer doesn't stay in the limo the whole time. He does get out a couple of times along the way. One time in particular is to get something to eat. This time with his other times is to meet with his wife of 22 days, Elise Shifrin, played by Sarah Gadon.

All of these meetings are supposed to get at Packer's character and the writer's thoughts about the socioeconomic and financial culture around Packer. He's a player in that culture but there is a detachment from it. All these meetings are not all that engaging. There's no real drama to it. Cronenberg puts out there that Packer's life has been threatened, but I barely felt that threat.

That being said, Cronenberg does craft four great moments, as they are four great scenes of dialogue. The first involves Dr. Ingram, played by Bob Bainborough. Ingram comes to Packer's limo in order to give him a prostate exam. This would be odd by itself, but at the same time, while Packer is naked and at a right angle as Ingram fingers him, one of Packer's female employees, Jane Melman, is also in the limo having a dry conversation with him.

The second moment is when Andre Petresca, a French protestor, played by Mathieu Amalric (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and Quantum of Solace), attacks Packer. It's surprising and violent. The third is when Kosmo Thomas, played by Gouchy Boy, tells Packer about the funeral of Brutha Fez, a very popular rapper, played by K'Naan. It's funny.

The fourth and final moment is when Benno Levin, the psychopath trying to kill Packer, played by Paul Giamatti (Sideways and Cinderella Man), confronts Packer in his apartment. Again, it's dialogue-heavy but Giamatti performs it extremely well. There is a rhythm to the scene that is powerful and tense. It is by far the best scene in the movie and by far elevates all that I didn't like that came before it. I would recommend the movie if only to see this one scene.

The DVD contains a hour-and-fifty-minute documentary that reveals the making of Cosmopolis. It's very in-depth and puts us right next to Cronenberg and his team. There are gems for film geeks who want to see his makeup artist from The Fly (1986) craft another body horror moment in this film. Of course, the fame of Pattinson is discussed but we get to see the other actors like Morton work through a tough scene and get Durand's thoughts and feelings while blocking and choreography.

Four Stars out of Five.
Rated R for graphic nudity, violence and language.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 49 mins.


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