R-Pat tries to shake his sparkly vampire image with this smart and wicked David Cronenberg drama....
E1 / 109 Minutes / 2012 / Rated R / Street Date: January 1, 2013
Let's lay it out on the table: David Cronenberg should have directed the Twilight movies. I don't mean to say that Canada's greatest director would have simply injected some much-needed sex and fetish into Stephenie Meyer's limp tales of fanged swoon (though that certainly wouldn't be a bad thing). What Cronenberg has shown over the decades - whether it's Naked Lunch or A History of Violence or Crash - is that he can take a novel and translate it to the screen with sensational vivacity.
His translations are never necessarily representative of their source material - even though he says all the dialogue in Cosmopolis has been ported over verbatim from Don DeLillo's original novel - but he liberates their sagas with irresistible postmodern charm. I mean, no one could have ever made a line-by-line movie out of Naked Lunch, but somehow Cronenberg was able to take the erectile night terrors of William Burroughs' novel and turn them into a deliriously eerie - yet always palatable - dissertation on life and love as seen through the heavy miasma of drugs and delusions.
And what Cronenberg is able to accomplish with Cosmopolis is almost as profound. DeLillo's novel about gridlock and the splintering of modern society provides a perfect jumping-off point for the director: and casing Robert Pattinson (arguably the world's most recognizable young star, at present) as our usher through the tinted limousine window events of the movie is sheer genius. Weighing in not only on the issues drummed up by DeLillo and his novel, but on the artifice and fleeting power of the moving image, Cronenberg hitches his cart onto R-Pat's iconic stature and goes nuts with it.
Time will tell whether Cosmopolis will stand as one of Cronenberg's towering achievements - it got a mild European response and was pretty much ignored stateside - but I felt while watching the film a second time on Blu-ray that I wasn't catching everything that the director was throwing my way. The acting, the story, the events within Cosmopolis are perfectly well-chiseled, but I'd wager that the real magic in Cronenberg's particular talents lies in the fact that as a thinker and philosopher, he's always six or seven paces in front of his audience.
Seriously - can you imagine what he would have done with Twilight? Cronenberg orchestrating the visual effect of vampires 'sparkling'? The mind reels....