Cannes 2012 Review: David Cronenberg's 'Cosmopolis' with Pattinson
by Alex Billington
May 26, 2012
Before seeing this, I was considerably curious to see how filmmaker David Cronenberg (of A Dangerous Method most recently) would handle a philosophical character study about a billionaire taking a limo across New York City. Alas, I was let down to discover an overly-complex, dialogue-heavy exposé on how money corrupts that follows a rather cold, careless character who continually emphasizes his power over everyone below him, without any concern for that power. Cronenberg establishes an unique world (and the inside of a limo) for us to follow Robert Pattinson as billionaire Eric Packer in, but that's about all that's interesting.
Numerous films at this year's festival seem to deal with the societal and cultural struggle of money, and how the financial gaps in this world affect individuals living in these societies. Cosmopolis is another study of the corruption and power of money, as observed from the top down. And this time, it's about some 28 year old financial multi-billionaire (Pattinson) who seems more clueless and disconnected from this reality than the poor, battered, unemployed man who really wants to kill him, mostly out of the sheer size of that financial gap. Thankfully, the scenes where he ends up talking with this individual are some of the most interesting in it, but it takes too long to get there and by the time we reach that point, general interest is already waning.
While the film itself, on its surface, is indeed about a stretch limo slowly progressing across a very busy New York City, full of protests and of course plenty of traffic, it's oddly far too static. It moves along disjointedly, complete with awkward vignette moments rather than flowing scenes with segues, and none of it progresses Pattinson's character in any way. Instead, we continue to learn more about how hollow and absentminded this guy is, not helped much by Pattinson's equally wooden and slipshod performance. But maybe that's just what Pattinson is known for (and kind of good at) and some may enjoy his cold, calculated performance in Cosmopolis, befitting his over-exaggerated celebrity status in the real world. But I did not care for it at all.
Many of the problems with Cronenberg's Cosmopolis stem from its script and its brutally convoluted and absurdly-informational, "data-packed" dialogue. There are lots of big ideas, philosophies, concepts, theories (involving money, corruption & life) discussed throughout the film, which makes it intriguing to see, but it doesn't lead to any revelation or contain any poignant messages. By the end I had no care or concern for the character or his fate, and couldn't stop wondering if the windows in the limo were truly awful greenscreen or just tinted to look like terrible greenscreen. Another rather unfortunate let down for me from Cronenberg.
Alex's Cannes Rating: 5.5 out of 10
Reader Feedback - 13 Comments
A Little Bit Disappointed , But must see it myself first, Crash & eXistenz & Spider & even Naked Lunch had bad critics either but were Fantastic to me
Ehsan Davodi on May 26, 2012
First, the Facebook IPO. Now, this Cannes review. Tough month for both fictional and real-world 28-year-old billionaires.
Richard Horgan on May 26, 2012
Wow, this article in turn actually only slams the book because, from the description you provided, the movie sounds exactly like the book. The dialogue in the book was exactly, "data-packed." Or did you not read the book? Sure sounds like it to me; the book (and the movie) is NOT supposed to, "lead to any revelation or contain any poignant messages" in the first place!
gust on May 26, 2012
But a movie has to work on its own merits. What might have made a good book does not always make a good film.
John on May 26, 2012
Don DiLillo has a rather specific writing style, and one that I'd wondered how well would translate to the screen. It simply sounds like it might not have.
Emma on May 26, 2012
I think the objection to the data packed script is not about the data packed script of DeLillo but the fact that Cronenberg simply doesn't understand the book and misreads it. His directions to his actors I am sure mirrored his own misunderstanding, communicating it to them, so that they spoke lines without understanding the deep well of meaning that is in those words. Cosmopolis IS supposed to lead to a revelation and does contain poignant messages. If you read Eric Packer's "disappearing" all his money - numbers in the air - and read that action through Ayn Rand's Francisco d'Anconia's wipe out of the San Sebastion Mines and as many as he could take down with him, you will have it cold. Cronenberg never got near this reading of it. From the trailer Morton never got what she was saying was Foucault speak: There is no outside. And Baudrillard about the future not being the cruel happy place we want it to be. Dronenberg is a dunce. Pattinson is correct in the little he has said. The money is not real. Reality has been lost. You can read me if you are interested in more of this: http://cosmopolisfilm2.blogspot.com
abbeysbooks on Jun 10, 2012
Robert was fascinating and a perfect Eric Packer...you sound bored and cliche and thats sad. It is a difficult to bring this Book to life , but that is what Cronenberg and Pattinson did they made an awkward Book bearable
gabi on May 27, 2012
"But maybe that's just what Pattinson is known for (and kind of good at) and some may enjoy his cold, calculated performance in Cosmopolis, befitting his over-exaggerated celebrity status in the real world. But I did not care for it at all." ............you just shot yourself in the Foot..if you wouldn't care you wouldn't make a statement like that
gabi on May 27, 2012
"Did not care for" in this context means he did't like it, not that he was apathetic. Soooo, you shot yourself in the foot. Also...mad bro?
Rabstown on May 28, 2012
Dear Alex, I've seen yours and many other reviews from well established broadsheets and have found that your analysis is the most accurate and assertive one from all: while others overly exagerate with compliment, almost forcefully, Pattinson's work on the movie, and end up describing the whole film rather than interpreting it, you go straight to the point on what the film is about, its pros and cons on acting and storyline and dialogues, and the way Pattinson handled himself in another league - I too thought that his works was best when conversing with Giamatti - all of a sudden, he was a character, and not an actor with old vices. I too saw the movie already - thank you for putting into the best words possible my exact thoughts on it.
Sara on May 29, 2012
Alex I really like your review. Here's why: you have obviously understood that Cronenberg has not understood and has misread this book. Well he read it in one sitting and pasted the screenplay in in 6 days, so what else is new. So clearly you have misunderstood it as you are exactly mirroring Cronenberg's interpretation of the book to film in making it yet another Cronenberg ego laden film. I thought Cronenberg's Crash and Naked Lunch were brilliant adaptations. I find his take on Cosmopolis deplorable and so I find your review absolutely perfect. Please check my blog on Cosmopolis if you would like to see what a brilliant and endlessly classical film it could have been. It feels like a tragedy to me as we all need the understanding this film could have given us as to our fate in this western civilization of ours. Yet once again Pattinson has been trapped by a director of "authority" he admired and trusted. His only fault lies in trying to please these "has beens" and idiots he works with. (On to Blacklist.) I did admire Dangerous Method, not because of Cronenberg but because no one has understood Freud the way he did. I cannot say the same of Fassbender's Jung as I am not nearly as familiar with Jung as Freud, but the comparison of the two together fits precisely Lou Salome's observations of them at the Last International Psychoanalytic meeting, just before the war, where the two men came face to face - now estranged from each other - and according to Salome Freud was impeccable (to use Don Juan's adjective) while Jung was not. Thanks for a sincere and honest review. Please visit me: http://cosmopolisfilm2.blogspot.com Have you ever considered that Cosmopolis follows Ayn Rand in Atlas Shrugged? If not I do. Among many other of my readings of DeLillo's great great novel.
abbeysbooks on Jun 7, 2012
Having everything flagged for review is a nuisance really. Makes me not want to come back.
abbeysbooks on Jun 10, 2012
This is a love it or hate it film. I happened to have absolutely loved it. It was absorbing and confounding and for me, pure Cronenberg. Incredible performances. Pattinson is mesmerizing and Giammatti superb. A wonderful experience if you are open to it. But, don't be mislead, there is action, but, it is hardly action packed. Thought provoking and definitiely current. If you read the book, it is a true to the page as it can get.
George D on Jul 11, 2012
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