Saturday, February 9, 2013
Cosmopolis & Side Effects
DeLillo's worldview is steeped in darkness. Just from the ideas and events he builds stories around. The fear of death in White Noise, the JFK assassination in Libra, the conflict of the Cold War in Underworld and 9/11 in Falling Man. Cosmopolis is no different. For 28 year old billionare Eric Packer, the world has become digitized and converted into luxury limo that roams around the street. The characters and situations are all larger than life. It it easy to see how his influence seeps into the work of Bret Easton Ellis and Chuck Palhaniuk. One could even draw a line from Patrick Bateman to Eric Packer. Where the former (Ellis) grapples with superficiality and decadence & the latter (Palhaniuk) dabble in extreme situations, DeLillo finds that middle ground between the two. Information plays a key role in the film and Eric Packer takes us aboard his limo to whisper into our ears his litany of thoughts.
Cronenberg said that to make a truly faithful adaptation, one must betray the source material. Adapting anything nowadays requires at least some betrayal. Kubrick gave us this in spades with The Shining. While I haven't read DeLillo's book, Cronenberg remains a keen eye on what to adapt. Which brings us into the first thing that popped into my mind when I heard about the project: why Cosmopolis? Why not White Noise? Well for one, Cronenberg's fascination with skin and texture abound through the film. And being the intellect he is, I can see a correlation between the darkness of DeLillo's worldview and his.
He's tackled King. He's tackled Burroughs. Now he tackles DeLillo.
To quote Adrian Belew of King Crimson, "the more I look at it, the more I like it."
Minimalism is the one trait that Soderbergh has over many of his peers. (See: Bubble.) Another trait: spontaneity. His 5 or less takes method makes way for spontaneous performances. In other words, if you act in a Soderbergh film, know your shit. Rooney Mara has certainly come up quickly after her role in Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and proves she is not just a one trick pony. As if I ever needed proof that she can act, the woman sitting next to me in the theater whispered "She's scary" during one of her pivotal scenes. Mara inhabits the role of Emily and all her complexities and subtleties.
The script penned by Scott Z. Burns is intelligent and knows how to play the audience with just the right amount of information at a given time. Soderbergh said "All drama and all conflict is ultimately about betrayal. What's interesting to me is when you're able to find a story where you get to explore that unwritten, unspoken agreement that exists between the filmmaker and the audience. I like when you can betray them in a way that doesn't anger them but instead draws them into the story." Side Effects is the film I was waiting for Soderbergh to make. It just took him a while to produce it. It may be his last film, but he went out with style and grace.