David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis Mantra: Let It Express Itself

A vampire capitalist haunts New York in David Cronenberg’s film adaptation of Cosmopolis, Don DeLillo’s sci-finance novel that focuses on a Wall Street billionaire named Eric Packer who trades, converses, theorizes, kills and screws his way through New York in a single day.

Experimental exercises like DeLillo’s fiction work just fine on the printed page, where the stories can be given enough white space to breathe freely. But they are harder to pull off in movie form. Still, Cronenberg remained extremely loyal to the source text.

“It’s different if I’m writing something original, but when I’m adapting these novels I’m attracted to them for what they are, not how I’m going to squish them,” Cronenberg told me by phone.

“For me, the process is to, quoting Cosmopolis’ doctor, ‘Let it express itself.’ He was talking about a pimple on Packer’s back, but that could be my mantra for any adaptation: Let it express itself.”