Robert Pattinson is about to enter a new kind of Twilight Zone, courtesy of David Cronenberg. It was announced today that the Canadian filmmaker has cast the vampire heartthrob as a bloodsucker of a different colour—a multi-billionaire hedge fund manager in Manhattan who squanders his fortune betting against the survival of the world economy. The movie is Cosmopolis, a Canada-France coproduction based on the 2003 nouvella of the same name by award-winning American writer Don Delillo. Pattinson is set to co-star with Paul Giamatti (Barney’s Version), Juliette Binoche (The English Patient), and Matheu Amalric (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly).
Cronenberg appears to be on a roll. After the success of The History of Violence (2005) and Eastern Promises (2007), two Oscar-nominated hits, he has been creeping ever closer to mainstream acceptance, without compromising his singular vision. He recently completed A Dangerous Method, a German co-production about Freud and Jung, starring (in his third role with director) Viggo Mortensen—it will likely open next fall after a festival premiere in Cannes, Venice or TIFF. It’s always a good sign when a filmmaker has another movie on the go before his last one has hit the screen.
Landing a Cronenberg role is a savvy move for Pattinson, who needs to make the leap from the matinee idol ghetto of Twilight to more mature roles. His is not unlike the dilemma faced by an aging child star. In his previous non-vampire outing, the romance Remember Me, Pattinson showed the promise of a serious actor, but the film was a dud. Cronenberg is always a class act, and (despite his image as a horrormeister) he’s very much an actor’s director. Colin Farrell had originally been tapped for the Pattinson role, until he opted to star in a remake of Total Recall. And earlier candidates attached to the role of the female lead included Marion Cotillard and Keira Knightley, who stars in A Dangerous Method.
Cronenberg wrote the script for Cosmopolis, which is described as a “thriller.” In the director’s previous adaptations of fiction—notably Naked Lunch, Dead Ringers and Crash—he has played fast and loose with the source material, bending it to his own vision, so don’t expect Delillo’s work to be transposed too literally. I haven’t read the book. But it appears to have some classic Cronenberg elements, including some glimmers of Crash. Here’s how Wikipedia summarizes the plot:
“Cosmopolis is the story of Eric Packer, a 28 year old multi-billionaire asset manager who makes an odyssey across midtown Manhattan in order to get a haircut. The stretch limo which adorns the cover of the book is richly described as highly technical and very luxurious, filled with television screens and computer monitors, bulletproofed and floored with Carrara marble. It is also cork lined to eliminate (though unsuccessfully, as Packer notes) the intrusion of street noise.
“Like James Joyce‘s Ulysses, Cosmopolis covers roughly one day of time and includes highly sexed women and the theme of father-son separation. Packer’s voyage is obstructed by various traffic jams caused by a presidential visit to the city, a funeral procession for a Sufi rap star and a full-fledged riot. Along the way, the hero has several chance meetings with his wife, seeing her in a taxi, a bookstore, and lying naked in the street, taking part in a movie as an extra. Meanwhile, Packer is stalked by two men, a comical “pastry assassin” and an unstable “credible threat“. Through the course of the day, the protagonist loses incredible amounts of money for his clients by betting against the rise of the yen, a loss that parallels his own fall. Packer seems to relish being unburdened by the loss of so much money, even stopping to make sure he loses his wife’s fortune as well, to ensure his ruin is inevitable.”