Can R–Pattz cut it in David Cronenberg's new film Cosmopolis? The film's teaser trailer suggests a resounding yes
Self mutilation, kinky sex in vehicles, possible alternative reality – the teaser trailer for Cosmopolis in like a mainline hit of pure David Cronenberg. Its 34 exhilarating seconds contain more of the Canadian filmmaker’s trademarks than all his films of the last decade put together.
There’s a simple explanation for Cosmopolis’ (seemingly) über Cronenbergness: it’s the first time he’s worked from his own script since his hallucinatory 1998 corker eXistenZ, in which Jude Law and Jennifer Jason Leigh have fun finger-banging each other’s vaginal game ports in a virtual reality simulation played on organic play stations that shiver in ecstasy when they’re thumbed.
Like eXistenZ, a British pretty boy is in the lead role, but where Law was an innocent reluctantly popping his body horror cherry, the greasy haired, semi-naked Robert Pattinson has the look of a jaded pro. “Show me something I don’t know,” he says to a foxy biker chick who’s forgotten to finish dressing (or, more likely, forgotten to finish undressing) as she traces a gun's targeting laser across his torso. You get the feeling that there’s not much this perv hasn’t done.
So what is Cosmopolis about? Your guess is as good as mine. R-Pattz shoots his hand, does some humping, scans the dance floor of a nightclub, some poor bloke get stabbed in the eye-ball. The mixture of violence and sex suggests Crash and Videodrome, the trippy otherworldliness brings to mind Naked Lunch and the pulsating industrial electro and neon titles owe more than a little to Gasper Noé's Enter the Void.
The big question the teaser poses: can R-Pattz cut the mustard? His acting thus far in his career has been more cut the cheese, but Cronenberg has form in bringing newfound respectability to tweenie stars. Keira Knightley’s turn in A Dangerous Method was a thing of wonder – brave, bracing and teetering on the right side of berserk. Kermode’s Ikea Knightley gibes should be consigned to a skip.
Pattinson has always given off a nefarious vibe. He doesn’t need the make-up and fangs to have the look of the night about him. In this way he’s the perfect Cronenberg leading man; screen creeps are his forte. Think of Jeremy Irons as the gynecologist twins obsessed with deformed wombs in Dead Ringers, or bug-eyed Jeff Goldblum in The Fly, who liked nothing better of a night than to sit at home telling his PC all about flesh. While the Zac Efrons or the Taylor Lautners of this world could never be at home in the Cronenberg universe, R-Pattz, with his sweaty, too big for his head brow and lopsided smile, blends in like a phallic tumour growth or a weeping knife wound.
The release date that flashes up at the end of the teaser – 23/05/12 – is during the Cannes film festival, suggesting Cronenberg's film is likely to be on la croisette. If it’s in competition I reckon it’s a shoo in for the Palme d'Or and here’s why: 1) Juliette Binoche won the Best Actress award at Cannes 2010 for Certified Copy; 2) The following year Terrence Malick’s Tree of Life scooped top prize, despite having a risible sequence with dinosaurs. Cosmopolis, as the teaser briefly reveals, has both Binoche and a T-Rex, the coolest dinosaur of all. How can it fail?