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Cosmopolis is very much a taxing and niche film. Its format requires patience from the viewers by definition, as most of the film is spent inside the limousine of our protagonist, with about a dozen of short scenes inside similarly enclosed places. The story is initially slow-paced and feels devoid of stakes, and the dialogue is surprisingly unconventional, but seems barely related to the events at hand. You might begin to wonder if the director Leave the Camera Running for some scenes.
Get past the 40-minute mark, however, and the film truly comes together, and the feeling of disjointedness disappears as you begin to see the connections in what is essentially the incredibly detailed portrait of protagonist’s mental degradation. James Packer is a person with intentionally generic name and little backstory, to highlight the fact that any billionaire could become him. He comes to emotional ruin not merely because of the money he has (the film is careful to include the scenes with his similarly rich, yet far better adjusted wife to avoid being lumped into such simplistic clichés), nut by his drive to seek out new experiences at all cost, which leaves him emotionally hollow.
Exchanges that seem vague and disconnected at the start make sense in the light of his search for new experiences and perspectives, while the quest for haircut symbolises his self-awareness of the situation and desire to reconnect with simple, slow life, done in the most self-defeating way possible. His disconnect and disinterest in the events is made particularly clear by the complete inability to comprehend anti-globalist mob early on in the film. Some claim Occupy-like groups were reduced to Bomb-Throwing Anarchists in that scene, but that's because Packer cannot perceive them in any other way.
Tension ratchets up after a shocking death midway through, and the final 20 minutes were absolutely captivating, both due to the sharp, subversive dialogue and acting involved. Robert Pattinson unequivocally proves that he WAS being intentionally bad in Twilights: not only can he act well, he is absolutely perfect for the role. The "antagonist" is similarly great and minor characters are all well-cast. The ending is a textbook example of ambiguity, where things left unsaid punctuate the central theme. In this respect it's on par with final panel of Watchmen.
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