Imagine, if you will, a movie that takes place almost entirely in a stretch limousine, with the cameras trained directly on the main character. This is David Cronenberg's latest film, Cosmopolis, and if you didn't know already, it stars Twilight alumnus Robert Pattinson in the lead role.
At times dark, at times light(er), but all the time serious, Cosmopolis is a cerebral, dialogue-heavy take on Don DeLillo's book of the same name. With the limo serving as his corporate office, Pattinson plays Eric Packer, a youthful entrepreneur with money to burn and a desire for something more. For most of the film, Pattinson meets-and-greets with people in his limo/office -- it's a series of bizarre vignettes, with his daily visit from his doctor as one of the highlights.
Cosmopolis is a look inside a brilliant mind, but also a voyeuristic insight into what it might be like to lose it all. We've put together a bunch of things you need to know about the movie, just in case you were expecting something else entirely.
This Is Absolutely Nothing Like Twilight
A point that we must make clear: there are no vampires (at least, not in the literal sense), and there are no werewolves in this movie. This is a complete departure from the Twilight series, and it's refreshing to see Pattinson take on a role leagues away from Edward Cullen. The actor believes, though, that Twilight fans will still find things to like about the film. "I think the [Twilight] fans will like this movie," he said. "I liked the Twilight scripts for the same reasons I loved this script. I really hope they'll appreciate it."
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<em>(All Photos Courtesy of EOne Entertainment)</em>
Toronto Masquerades As New York City
The city in the film may look like New York and sound like New York, but it's actually Toronto. This isn't the first time the Canadian metropolis has doubled for the Big Apple -- it's where American Psycho, The Incredible Hulk and all the Police Academy films were shot, among many others -- and it certainly won't be the last. It is the perfect camouflage, and if you don't know either city very well, the sub-in works.
Cronenberg doesn't think it matters, anyway. "In the novel, Eric Packer's limousine crosses Manhattan from east to west along 47th Street. 47th Street looks quite like some streets in Toronto. We created the space of the film by putting together genuine elements from New York with others from Toronto. To me, even if the book is unquestionably set in New York, it is a very subjective New York. We are actually in Eric Packer's mind. I thought it was legitimate to settle for a more abstract vision, even though it is really New York that you can see unfolding through the car's windows."
There Are Many Similarities To The Book
Above all, Cronenberg wanted to stay true to the book as source material. But, as a veteran filmmaker, he also realized that some things would not translate to film. For that reason, certain things were omitted from the movie, like a specific storyline (which we will not reveal here) and a 150-person orgy scene. "I don't think that would have worked out," he quipped, laughing.
Cronenberg wrote the screenplay in six days (an amazing feat, really), and he found the novel's most compelling aspect -- the dialogue between characters -- to be its ultimate selling point, which is why the majority of the screenplay is taken directly from the book. "DeLillo is famous for his amazing dialogues," said Cronenberg. "But the dialogues in Cosmopolis are especially brilliant. Don's work clearly shows exceptional expressive power."
Pattinson reiterated Cronenberg's emphasis on the dialogue: "[Cronenberg] insisted that we had to say the dialogues exactly as they were written, to the letter. He wouldn't tolerate any variation. The screenplay depends to a large extent on rhythm, so we had to comply with that as far elocution was concerned."
Shooting In A Limo Was Quite The Experience -- For Everyone
If you stop to think about it, a limousine is, ironically, very confining, with low ceilings and very little space to move around. And so it was for the actors and director: a very tight area to do a lot of work. "We did some hard thinking about the inner fittings of the car," said Cronenberg. "And the kind of throne in which Packer sits isn't really plausible, but it epitomizes the balance of power. Many fittings come from the book, including the marble floor."
Pattinson initially had some difficulty with the filming; for most of the movie, the camera is focused straight on his face, usually in close quarters. "I often try to focus on the cameraperson's eye, but in this case, the camera was so close I couldn't see the eye," he said, chuckling. "So I kind of developed a relationship with the camera itself. Eventually I got more comfortable."
Robert Pattinson Can Identify On Some Level With His Character
Wait, you say. How can this down-to-earth British guy identify with an uber-rich entrepreneur? Money aside, Pattinson's character has an immense security team, so yes, this is something that the actor is very familiar with. "I don't have too much in common with him," laughs Pattinson. "But one thing he does have is a relationship with security, and that's something I'm very familiar with. Otherwise, Eric and his life has little resemblance to reality."
Despite their immense differences, Cronenberg knew he wanted Pattinson in the lead role (though initially he had Colin Farrell in mind). "[Pattinson's] work in Twilight was interesting, although of course it falls within a particular framework. I also watched Little Ashes and Remember Me, and I was convinced he could become Eric Packer. It's a heavy part, and he appears in each and every shot, and I don't think I have ever made a film on which the same actor literally never leaves the frame. The choice of an actor is a matter of intuition -- there are no rules or instructions about it."
This Movie's Cast Is Ridiculous
Besides Pattinson, Cosmopolis is filled to the brim with stellar actors. Juliette Binoche, Sarah Gadon, Jay Baruchel, Kevin Durand, Emily Hampshire, Samantha Morton and the always-amazing Paul Giamatti lend their skill to the film. It's a treat to watch the different actors come and go for their individual vignettes with Pattinson, almost like a buffet of acting.
Cronenberg loved the process too, and felt that it brought out the best in Pattinson. "Aside from the dialogue, which they could not adjust, the actors still had broad leeway, and tone and rhythm were entirely up to them," he said. "It was particularly interesting for Pattinson, in whose limo various characters turn up, played by very different actors. It brought him to act differently, depending on which actor was opposite him."
On Some Level, This Is A Comedy (A Dark One)
While overall the tone of this movie is dark and foreboding, there are small moments of comedy. Have you ever had a prostate exam in a limo? Well, Pattinson's character does. Let's just say it's ... amusing.
"The film acts on different levels," said Pattinson. "The first time I saw the film, I was amazed by its farcical side, which I knew was there during the shooting, but which was unexpectedly apparent. The second time I saw it, the gravity of what was at stake prevailed. Despite its complexity, I was amazed by the way it reaches a wide range of emotions."