Cosmopolis starts when Eric (strong performed by Robert Pattinson) decides to get a haircut. But this will not be a typical trip to the barber’s, because Eric is not our everyman. He is special. His haircut is special. His actions are special. And yet, Eric is suffering from an awful disease. He is bored.
Cosmopolis is a cinematic experiment rather than a film. Maybe the book is so perfect that Cronenberg decided to make a perfect adaptation of it, changing nothing at all and leaving the dialogues as intense and as long as they are in the novel. I don’t know, because I haven’t read it. Yet.
What the film did to me is it definitely persuaded me to get the book it was based on and indulge myself in the ongoing battle between two economic and intellectual views- the scary capitalism vs chaotic socialism. What is amazing about the battle of wits Cosmopolis definitely stimulates is that no argument ever wins. Eric, who represents the first idea is materialistically fulfilled. He is not even aware of the existence of poorer people and instead, isolates himself in his office (that we never see) or his limo (which we mostly see), where he takes all of his appointments- from company related to sex services and medical check ups (which he has daily). This closed environment has its price- it makes Eric shallow. And bored of course. So Eric makes a choice. He leaves the city to get to the suburbs, where he becomes a victim rather than the oppressor, however, we soon discover that the roles can be infinitely switched, because in Cosmopolis, there is no good nor bad. There is just the ultimate greyness.
Eric is hated by the ‘everymen’ who see him as the capitalistic system. The socialists fight for the equality and the ruin of wealthy individuals. They want the banks down and president dead, yet, are these chivalrous slogans so romantic in theory are ridiculous and unfair in practice. Is Eric to blame for the everyman failure? Has this battle been destined to fail?
It all cease to matter the moment Cosmopolis takes shape of a movie, because simply it is not good enough as a movie. As I have said before, it offers an amazing argument that can be discussed for hours from different points of views, and yet somehow it fails on the screen. Why? I guess, just because cinema wants people, not arguments. When literature accepts long dialogues and symbolism, the mainstream cinema (and yes, although Cronenberg is an ambitious director, he is not a very difficult one) needs real characters and real stories we can identify with or at least, we can have some emotions towards. Here, everything is dry and so indifferent we couldn’t care less. If Eric dies or not just doesn’t mean anything at all for the audience, which makes Cosmopolis just boring. And yes, I’d rather shoot myself in a hand than continue watching it.