When you arrive in Toronto, you’re likely to go to your hotel in a gangster car. David Cronenberg lives in Toronto, a clean and cold city that look likes American megalopolis.
In Cosmopolis, in competition in Cannes Film Festival, is denouncing the financial world. Eric Packer, the main character, is a young billionaire and the most powerful man in New York. He’s doing business in his limo and drives across the city, that’s on the verge of chaos. He’s adapting Don Delillo’s novel for his 20th film.
David : “You have to betray the book to adapt it because if it’s a literal adaptation, you’re going to fail. You must accept you’re doing a film and you’re not translating a book. You’re making a new thing. It only took me six days to write the script and believe me, it’s a record. You can easily take one year to write a screenplay. But here, 6 days were enough because the novel is already working as a film. The 1st three days, I just copied the dialogues without changing anything but I put it in the form of a screenplay. And then the next 3 days, I filled in the scenes. But after I wrote down the dialogues, I asked myself if it really made a film. And for me the answer is yes. It made a really good film. However, I didn’t change any line in the dialogues. The character played by Juliette Binoche has just one scene in the film but it’s a very long scene in the film. In the book, it’s in her flat in NY but I put the scene in the limo. I thought it was more interesting to put them in a more restrained place. Because he has power, he forces people to come to him and his employees must go in his limo to see him. That’s why in the scene with Juliette, I’d rather see her come to him and he doesn’t come to his flat.
It’s a metaphor. When you’re inside this limo, it’s so luxurious with all these screens, these drinks, this food and there’s even toilets in there. We got everything we want but we aren’t in the real world. In fact, when we’re in the limo, we’re in Eric’s mind. He’s sitting in his own head. It’s similar to being in a submarine, it’s both hostile and foreign. It’s as if he was under water and he could only breathe was inside the limo. If he gets out, he’ll obviously drowns. Throughout the film, he finds out he’s a prisoner and he has absolutely no freedom at all. The blame is not only on the system but it’s as if the system had contaminated his body. From a political point of view, we can say it’s the capitalism that enslaved him. So he looks for darker and more dangerous way to be free. His wife tells him “Free to do what? To be broke and die?” and he answers her “Yes”.
I began thinking about it when I was doing The Fly. I was thinking about Samuel Beckett, an irish playwright whose text are simple and austere. However beyond this austerity and simplicity, there’s a big complexity. That’s what’s interesting for me. I’ve loved the cinema of many directors like Fellini. He made outgoing and voluptuous films but it’s not my temper. I found my own sobriety if we may call it. A kind of austerity, an ascetism. I don’t shoot very much and I do few takes. I don’t multiply the angles. With maturity, you’re more and more confident and we know perfectly what we want and we’re more accurate. We know what’s going to work. So I end up simplifying my filmaking definitively.
I’ve always been on cautious with money but I don’t understand anything. I often read financial press but the words they use are more abstract than Heidegger’s philosophy. We invent money. It doesn’t exist as a natural resource. It comes from society. However , we can’t control it. It has his own life and can destroy people’s. So my relation with money is very simple. I don’t invest money in complex . I’m not interested. I know we can deny money but I try to make it as simple as possible.