Watching the trailer for this back in 2012 with the strobing visuals, riots, nudity, gunshots, a large rat attacking the limo and a barrage of stars – this looked like a fascinating, sexy, exciting new David Cronenberg movie! Turns out – it wasn’t!
This was my second attempt at this one but to be fair, the first time I watched it, I was so pissed I would’ve slept through Die Hard so this never had a chance. On second viewing, I was completely compus mentis and also aware that it had to go back to United Video, I tried again. Here we go.
Precocious, young, billionaire twat, Eric Packer (Robert Pattinson), makes the executive decision to go across town in his stretched limo to get a haircut. This during copious rioting, stop-offs for marital discussions, sex and food and rectal examinations. In the interim, Packer invites various cohorts into his limo (doctors, bodyguards, analysts and rappers) to discuss gnomic topics about… well… not sure.
The thing is – for the most part – the people talk. They talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk! They talk more than the most overlong, unhappening parts of Tarantino’s 2000s output. BUT for a film that is so dialogue heavy, it was the thing I was least interested in. I am really not sure what they were talking about so I tuned out. Despite the fact of the matter that I was interested in what the film had to say, looking in at these self-absorbed, shut-off people living at the top and doing their utmost to ignore the raging masses outside even when they’re threatening to overturn the car.
There is something interesting that the film and by extension Don DeLillo’s novel are trying to say, it’s just that to me, they’re not saying it in a very interesting way. The endless stream of elliptical conversation between characters is overwhelming and just confusing in a way that is unhelpful and counter-productive (this forms an interesting counterpoint to a film which I will review very soon) because it is so relentless. That coupled with the deliberately largely emotionless performances and you have unlikeable characters that you cannot reach for anyway talking in such a baffling vernacular that you just give up.
For all that, it is a good looking film, by and large. Peter Suschitzky‘s cinematography is crisp, cold and clinical in the way that these characters’ lives would be and when we get into the outside world, it turns to something much more tactile, unruly and grimy. The performances, aswell, are somewhat muted towards a Bressonian type of ‘acting’ which is in keeping with the characters’ boredom with the world.
However, I just didn’t care in the end. I’d definitely given up and I can’t believe I’m saying this about a Cronenberg film but by the end, it felt like it had stalled. There were a couple of extended takes which just felt like it had slightly given up the ghost and wanted to end as much as I wanted it to. A disappointment.