COSMOPOLIS: “Empty Inside”

Robert Pattinson as Eric Packer
Samantha Morton as Vija Kinsky
Juliette Binoche as Didi Fancher
Paul Giamatti as Benno Levin
Out in theaters September 7

Billionaire Eric Packer (Pattinson) decides to go get a haircut from his favorite barber, so he journeys across Manhattan to his favorite barbershop. He travels in his limousine that is practically a rolling fortress – bulletproof and decked to the hilt with the latest in information technology so that he can keep up with what’s going on in business and the world around him. Traveling across town is made difficult by traffic re-routing because of a presidential motorcade, the funeral of a well known rapper, and a protest riot.  Because of constantly halting traffic, or perhaps because he has received death threats, Eric takes his meetings in his limo, one after the other – his IT guy, a corporate executive (whom he has sex with), an associate of the deceased rapper that Eric was fond of, and even a doctor who conducts DAILY physical examinations, at Eric’s request.

As the limo makes its way across town, it is flanked by Eric’s bodyguards who keep an eagle’s eye out for trouble.  Eric does occasionally leave his limo for food and to meet with his wife, whom he is constantly imploring to have sex with him, but is declined by his wife, stating that she wants to save her energy for her work. She’s a poet, and it becomes clear that he married for her money and not for love. Back in the limo, Eric monitors a crucial business development which causes him devastating financial loss. He retreats into self-destructive behavior, which includes killing one of his bodyguards.

No sparkling vampire here, but just as whey-faced, Robert Pattinson does actually manage to pull off a decent Jersey accent. He’s dark, sullen, and brooding, as the business tycoon who strives to know every piece of information on the planet, yet remains clueless about understanding himself. Empty inside, he craves sensation…any sensation; he begs a female bodyguard (whom he also slept with) to shoot him with her taser just so he could see what it feels like. After the day long trip to the barber is complete, Eric is confronted with a disturbed ex-employee (Giamatti) who has come to the conclusion that the most meaningful thing that can happen to him in his miserable existence is to kill Eric Packer.

“COSMOPOLIS” was nominated for the coveted Palme d’Or prize at the Cannes Film Festival this year, but unless you like weighty, existentialistic drama, I would suggest you skip this.  The only gem of this piece is David Cronenberg’s direction.  Understanding when you bring him into the mix, you’re already dealing with the strange and unusual, I don’t think anyone else could have touched this material, except maybe Stanley Kubrick.

2 out of 5 stars.

Check out the trailer for “COSMOPOLIS” below:

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