Robert Pattinson became a matinee idol by starring in The Twilight Saga, but gives his most vampire-like performance to date in Cosmopolis, an ambitious, alienating drama directed by David Cronenberg. Pattinson plays ice-cold billionaire financier Eric Packer, who spends a day stuck in Manhattan traffic in his custom-made limousine, ostensibly because he wants to get a haircut on the other side of town. As a Wall Street Master of the Universe at the helm of a crumbling empire, Pattinson subtly indicates the self-hatred that lies beneath Packer's arrogance and sense of entitlement.
The interior of Packer's limo serves as workspace and womb. He monitors the tumbling global markets, submits to a full physical exam (including prostate check), and has sexual trysts. He also takes meetings with his advisors and employees, including Juliette Binoche, Jay Baruchel, Samantha Morton, and Kevin Durand as a bodyguard concerned that Packer faces a legitimate threat to his life. Through the tinted windows he witnesses celebrity funerals and demonstrations from rat-obsessed protesters. Occasionally he leaves the car to visit his new wife (Sarah Gadon), with whom he seems to have been instantly estranged.
Cronenberg adapts the slim 2003 novel of the same name by Don DeLillo, a great author more fascinated by the forces shaping modern culture than replicating accessible emotions. Cosmopolis fits neatly with Cronenberg's previous films like Videodrome, Crash, and eXistenZ, which explored the relationships between people, new technologies, and society. Thanks to the Internet, people like Packer can make actions that instantly influence the entire plugged-in world.
With mannered dialogue and enigmatic, emotionally detached acting, Cosmopolis completely commits to its art-film aspirations. Frequently tedious, the film nevertheless takes a narrative trajectory that follows Packer in some surprising directions. Audiences may watch Cosmopolis and alternate between admiring its audacity and feeling desperate to leave the theater. But most will want to leave this limo early.
I can see Rushdie's stuff adapting well. Lots of plot to play with.