Cosmopolis and the Specter of Capitalism

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“A specter is haunting the world. The specter of Capitalism” these words are lid in a big screen somewhere in Times Square as the young billionaire Eric Packer drives through an anarchist protests with his limousine. That is one of the haunting scenes from the new David Cronenberg film starring Robert Pattinson as Eric Packer. The film takes place mostly in Packer’s white stretch limo where he embarks on an odyssey across midtown Manhattan to get a haircut. In his journey he encounters several obstructions: various traffic jams caused by a presidential visit to the city, anti-capitalists protesters, and a Muslim rapper’s funeral procession. During his voyage he also encounters several meetings with various women whom he has sexual relations with, his daily check-up doctor and his wife. In his limo, he has computers were he starts loosing millions of dollars by betting against the yen currency. The currency speculation is parallel to his self-destruction.

Cronenberg portrays an image of the 1% that is alien to the reality that surrounds it. A speculator that is so loyal to capital that it will go down with it to the very end. A 1% so bizarre that seems almost non-human (at one point the doctor tells Eric that his prostate is asymmetrical). For Eric, money is an abstraction. Cronenberg creates a world not so different from our own where the idea of capital has become more of an intellectual reality as opposed to a more tangible material. A world where a billionaire like Eric Packer can gain and loose millions of dollars without actually producing anything. Eric Packer embodies the self-destructive tendency of Capitalism. The ruin is inevitable.

The dialogue is cold and surreal. The casting of Robert Pattinson has some consequences; the character comes across convincingly enough to make you realize he is playing another kind of blood-sucking vampire. However, Mr Pattinson fails to deliver the sense of power that his character possesses. The choice for Mr. Pattinson is clearly understood as a charismatic choice and a commercial strategy. Nonetheless, the film does not lack originality and manages to pick your mind and imagination for 109 minutes. It’s definitely worth the watch and worth the time.

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