Road movies - they celebrate the open road, the freedom of travel, and the discovery of the self. Hardly the kind of genre you would expect to be a claustrophobic and dystopian philosophical musing on modern day capitalism. Yet here we are, with David Cronenberg bringing us a strikingly original take on the road movie based on Don DeLillo’s novel of the same name.
First things first, this movie is nowhere near as action packed as the trailer would have you believe. This is what I hate about trailers, they sell a film as something it’s not, people go to see it, hate it, and then tell everyone it sucks. This is something I’m sure scores of screaming R-Patz fans are going to be doing as his character - Eric Packer, a super rich billionaire - is a far cry from the smouldering, floppy haired and vacuous Edward Cullen that they would come to expect. Instead what we have is a study of a cold and calculating young man at the pinnacle of his existence, where the only way for him to go is down.
And a long way down he goes as well - treading familiar Cronenberg ground, the edge of human mentality and physicality - he loses everything he has in the space of a day in his limo trying to get across town to get a haircut. These are mostly events that take place outside of the car, which doubles up as his control centre, and shows that even those who command such incredible wealth and power are not completely invulnerable to the outside world. One particular sequence, in which Eric gets a cream pie to the face, can only lead to recollections of one News Corporation CEO falling to a similar fate.
Though despite the events that send his life spiralling out of control occur outside of his limo, the severe majority of the film takes place within the confines of it. A lot of the time it’s just the characters talking, and even the dialogue is something that would barely be used in a real conversation, but that’s not to say that nothing happens. It’s the performances and cinematography that make this film shine. Pattinson is brilliant as Packer, and his performance is one that is likely to break him from the R-Patz mould. He is fierce, yet blank - the epitome of cold calculation you would expect from such a figure in the real world. The camera work and lighting are enough to keep the conversations visually interesting as well as subtly creating the detached mood of the film.
It is this complete otherness that the film exudes that is going to divide the audiences. People have walked out of it, people have praised it, and people have vehemently attacked it all over the web. It’s a film to get people talking, and the issues it discusses in the film have never been so relevant today. It’s a startlingly close, if not hyper exaggerated, rendition of our times and if it gets people talking, then it has done it’s job.