124 of 153 people found the following review helpful
Meaning in life
, September 18, 2012
This review is from: Cosmopolis (DVD)
I read this book when Robert Pattinson signed on to the project, and to be honest, I didn't like it on the first reading. It grew on me by the second reading, but the movie made me love it. One of the challenges Cosmopolis faces is that it's impossible complete the phrase, "The moral of the story is...." and so many people, me included, dislike things that can't be easily defined. I've seen interviews with David Cronenberg and Robert Pattinson where they say that it is impossible to tell you what they story is about, but don't make the mistake of thinking that it's about nothing, it's just about open to so many interpretations that it's impossible to pin down. I'll give you mine, but rest assured that if you don't like what I see, chances are you'll see something else entirely anyway.
The story, in it's most basic form, is about Eric Packer's limo ride across the crowded city to get a haircut. He encounters various people and scenarios along the way, and inexpicably he encounters his new wife at several stops along the way, even though that would seem to be impossible since he's seemingly moving forward (albeit slowly) and she appears to intend to remain somewhat stationary. In a sense I think the limo ride is a microcosm for a Eric's journey through life. There is that saying that some people are in your life for a reason and some people are in your life for a season and I think he encounters his wife several times as a symbol of all people in a person's life that they keep coming back to, but it's poignant because he never really understands her, or her him even though there is that desire. They both very much are pretending to be normal, or at least understand normal, and don't we all feel that way sometimes? Even if he doesn't realize it the limo can be seen as his hearse because life is, afterall, a journey toward death. It's important to note that Eric is going to all this trouble of traveling across town to see his father's barber, which I think is symbolic of Eric's desire to somehow either connect with his past, become like or understand his father, or reach some sort of arbitrary life goal he's set for himself based on familial expectations all while he's sprucing himself up for his inevitable demise.
One of the few misses in this movie is that Cronenberg left out a scene where Eric encounters "three hundred naked people sprawled in the street" and he takes off his clothes and joins them and even thinks he sees his wife, Elise, in the crowd. In the book, I thought this was the only time that Eric really seemed to fit in with the people around him and it seemed to be the first time he understood Elise. It seemed like a sort of ritualistic cleansing before burial for Eric. Cronenberg also leaves out that in addition to Eric losing all his money he also intentionally loses all of Elise's as well. I think this points to the "you can't take it with you" philosophy and helps Eric resign himself to the fact that he's done. That Cronenberg didn't focus on these two bits of information makes me think that my entire interpretation of the story is wrong and you all should go about your day. Nothing to see here folks.
In a much hyped about scene worth the price of admission, Eric Packer encounters Benno Levin, his "stalker" for lack of a better word, played by Paul Giamatti. The fact that Eric Packer's security team has been working locating an undetermined "threat" to Eric's safety which was presumably Levin, but that Eric inexplicably stumbles upon the warehouse where he is hiding with no real reason for going there in the first place calls for a similar suspension of disbelief to the one that allows you to believe that Eric can repeatedly and coincidentally encounter Elise when he is traveling and she, seemingly, is not. It brought to mind that moment in Fight Club when you learn that Edward Norton IS Tyler Durden. Imagining that that scene might be taking place inside Eric's head kinda blows my mind. That being said, I'm pretty sure I'm wrong.
This movie is worth being seen because it is one of very few thinking movies. Much has been made about the fact that the timing of this movie coincides nicely with the Occupy Wallstreet movement but even though there are so many aspects of this movie that can make you think about the validity (or invalidity) of the financial market, this movie is really just about one person trying to find meaning in life.
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