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Robert Pattinson shows his range as a Wall Street vampire.


It’s tempting to read Cosmopolis as the fulfillment of Cronenberg’s shift from the body horror of early films like the vampire family saga The Brood to the more bloodless psychodrama of last year’s A Dangerous Method. Like the Don DeLillo novel on which it’s based, the film is a heady late-capitalist dystopia glimpsed with eyes-glazed disinterest from the back of a young billionaire’s limo. Certainly, it’s a talky affair, an intensive acting workshop for leading man Robert Pattinson, who’s subjected to a series of catechisms from bit players like Juliette Binoche as an acerbic art dealer, and Paul Giamatti as a paranoid fan. That the professional brooder comes out okay is a testament both to Pattinson’s surprisingly graceful way around the script’s cement blocks of dialogue about technology, markets, and currency—much of it in air quotations—and to the director’s trademark restraint.

Faithful as it is to DeLillo’s frosty text, this is still signature Cronenberg: think of it as a sampler of greatest hits, like anxieties about the future, sex in cars, video monitors, invasive clinical exams, and bodily defects. It also has a killer setting in its anonymized Toronto-as-Manhattan, stripped of some of the geographic markers that make the city a more pronounced character in the novel. We’re used to seeing Toronto sub for pretty well any city, but here that vagueness is built into the presentation: Pattinson’s car, it turns out, is reinforced with cork so that he can’t hear a thing that goes on outside of it. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to glide through the city with the sound turned off, this is your chance to find out.