Based on conversations I’ve had about the film, it seems the most contentious aspect of Cosmopolis, currently playing at the Landmark’s Century Centre and 600 N. Michigan, is that all the characters talk exactly the same way. It doesn’t matter if the person onscreen is a billionaire investor, a security guard, an artist, or a homicidal lunatic: everyone speaks in grammatically correct complete sentences and in full awareness of his or her position in human history. This mannered dialogue, which suggests an omniscient narrator playing ventriloquist with all of humanity, comes directly from Don DeLillo’s 2003 novel (it should sound familiar if you’ve read any of his books). David Cronenberg roots his adaptation in the book’s language, creating a claustrophobic atmosphere in which DeLillo’s words seem to fire at the audience point-blank.
In an interview in the current issue of Film Comment, Cronenberg explained the reasoning behind his approach: