On the many critics who have since taken chunks out of Cosmopolis for being alienating and cold, he scoffs, “Rob [Robert Pattinson] told me that he’d read a description of the film as ‘aggressively unloveable’! And I thought, ‘Well I rather like that!’ Because if you’re not making movies that are desperate to be loved — and I’m not — then you expose yourself to all kinds of attacks and criticism and misunderstandings.”
The supporting cast, including Juliette Binoche, Giamatti, Sarah Gadon and Samantha Morton, acquit themselves amiably in a series of exchanges that aim to illustrate the emptiness of Packer’s life, and yet offer the possibility that he might be capable of redemption. While elsewhere the centrepiece prostate exam plays a deceptively large part in the narrative movement, and in the very Cronenbergian notion that biology leads the way.
Mostly, the film lives or dies on Pattinson’s performance. He is in every scene, if not every shot. And Cronenberg has somehow coaxed out of the 26-year-old Twilight pin-up the kind of taut, high-wire performance that is simply unimaginable to anyone familiar with Pattinson’s vampire oeuvre.
“Rob was afraid of it at first,” he explains. “He said, ‘Wow, it’s wall-to-wall dialogue. It’s very complex. It could be great. But am I going to f*** it up? Am I going to be the one who ruins it?’ And so it took a couple of weeks to convince him that he had to trust me, and trust that I knew he could do it.”
Pattinson too has conceded that Cronenberg was instrumental in calming his neuroses, especially when he called around to the director’s home in Toronto in the middle of a pre-shoot meltdown. “He told me to stop worrying,” Pattinson said. “I think he heard me in the very obvious throes of a manic attack. He said, ‘When we start shooting, what will be will be.’ ”