David Cronenberg’s film takes place almost exclusively inside the stretched limousine of billionaire Eric Packer, a businessman whose gradual disillusion with his work and the world around him is marked by a stubborn insistence that he travel across town in order to get a haircut. There’s little of the body-inavsion weirdness that usually permeates Cronenberg’s movies save for an erotically awkward non-contact scene in which Eric and his chief of finance get each other hot and bothered whilst he’s receiving a prostate examination from his travelling doctor. The focus here, in contrast to Cronenberg’s previous work, is on the spectre of capitalism rather than the threat of corrupted flesh, and this idea is beautifully played out in the many claustrophobic and beautifully designed vignettes Eric shares with members of his inner cabal. The language, adapted by Cronenberg from Don DeLillo’s novel, is nebulous and poetic, and Howard Shore’s score with Canadian band Metric throbs and whirrs away menacingly in the background. It might all be a little too impenetrable for some people, and certainly, as a sequenced narrative, it’s held together by the loosest of stitches, but Cosmopolis is an arresting watch and as hypnotic and technically thorough as anything in the Cronenberg canon.
Words: Ash Verjee