“A logical expansion of business is murder”
“The urge to destroy is a creative urge”
These are two of many good quotes from David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis film that I really loved. I’ve been a fan of Cronenberg’s since the first time I saw his film adaptation of The Fly starring Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis. As a kid it freaked me out to watch the metamorphosis of man into fly, and I believe that’s why I enjoy his film’s so much. He’s very good at giving us examples of metamorphosis whether it be physical or psychological or both. In Cosmopolis, we are given a ceo’s metamorphosis from cool, calm and collective to a bit out of control and finally his breaking point.
This world that Eric Packer (Robert Pattinson) is living in is already out of control with a society living within economic turmoil mirroring much of what we as a nation went through in 2008, and are still going through with our distribution of wealth and power, bank bailouts, and real estate uncertainty. The anarchists are protesting, looting, and attacking businesses with dead rats to give off examples of corporate greed. Throughout the film you’ll see and hear a lot about the rat and the symbolism plays an important role in the story. If you think about the rat in different cultural contexts, we have a creature that was responsible for spreading a plague that killed millions of Europeans. To many, a filthy disgusting pest that spreads pestilence and disease. Then you have other cultures that deem the rat a creature to be worshiped, a reincarnation of the ones who lived before us and whom are therefore blessed. Packer jokingly brings up the rat as a new type of currency and the banter is quite funny in regards to what’s currently happening in his world. It just makes since. Especially once you dig a bit deeper into the currency in our country. We no longer have gold backing the US dollar. What’s backing it you ask? Nothing, it is simply a note which is a long standing joke within itself.
So, you get to watch Packer’s slow steady decline, like sinking in water without the struggle or fear of drowning. His company’s portfolios and future are uncertain but what does Packer care about? Getting a great haircut and trying to get closer to a wife he is intimately distant from. Packer is an interesting fellow, I must admit I was actually drawn to him for some strange reason. I think it’s because I admired the way he was able to sit calmly amongst chaos and wasn’t afraid of it. He was attracted to it.
At the same time, he took solace and refuge in his limo. His limo windows were his eyes to destruction and the limo itself was his protective shell. His relationship with his wife was odd yet it understandable. They were distant and played a lot of cat and mouse games. The sexual tension between them played out very well. Pattinson gave a great performance as a husband with an insatiable and unquenchable desire for his wife. He says, “I need all the meanings of the inflamed”, and I believe his wife uses that to her advantage like so many dysfunctional marriages we see presently. So, you’re company’s future is uncertain, your wife is a platonic stranger, and the world around you is collapsing yet he finds freedom in it all. Was this simply his way of saying he’s adapting or was he giving up? I’ll leave that up to you to decide since we all have our own personal life experiences, but life is strange and ever changing.
We as a society have been able to adapt to many settings whether positive or negative. Some are stronger than others and are better equipped to handle those changes without losing our heads but on the other hand you know the story. The film experience was similar to watching a play, and it got me very interested in reading the novel by Don Delillo. You never know what could happen all within one day or how your life can change within 24 hours. Thank you Cronenberg for another great film and to Don Delillo for a great story.