REVIEWS: Cosmopolis is “slyly funny and at least as philosophical as it is political”

“This is good. We’re like people talking. Isn’t this how they talk?”

Cosmopolis opens in the UK this Friday (June 15th) and we have a few reviews to share. Overall, reviews continue to be mixed and in the “love it or hate it” territory. If you’d like to read more reviews, click HERE to visit our review section in the menu bar.

From LittleWhiteLies (UK):

David Cronenberg’s superb latest is an existential road movie for our financially and morally bankrupt times, interested as much in addressing the semantic minutiae of the corporate apocalypse as it is deep felt anxieties relating to stress, success, control and our inability to ward off death with money and status.

Like The Social Network, it combines a credible depiction of a person whose age and intellect are dangerously off kilter, while sending its ‘hero’ on an anti-capitalist nightmare odyssey that discharges all the dry cynicism and insouciant doomsaying of Godard’s Week End.


Robert Pattinson is magnetic as Eric Packer, slick, jaded 26-year-old CEO of Packer Capital who decides to take a fleet of Limousines across across New York City in search of a haircut. This is his best performance to date by some considerable margin. Yes, even better than Remember Me.


It’s a richly verbose film, even more so than his majestic, 2011 exploration of extreme emotional repression, A Dangerous Method. It gets to the point where much of what is spoken cannot be fathomed – “talent is more erotic when it’s wasted” – but the film is about the rhythms of dialogue, the verbal posturing, sparring and deceptions employed in the economic sector.

The way in which Cronenberg photographs the talk, too, is subtle, elegant and intense without ever drawing undue attention to itself or feeling overly oppressive. Per Cronenberg himself, this is a film in which “fantastic faces say fantastic words”.

From The Arts Desk:

Cronenberg directs an icily impressive Robert Pattinson in a slick, cerebral satire

Cosmopolis might be, in part, a study of detachment but it’s cinema at its most intimate and inquisitive. It’s a challenging film which still entertains. It’s fairly short with an excruciatingly anxious yet playful finale, revealing the identity of Eric’s deadly stalker and rewarding its audience’s patience. There’s humour, particularly in Amalric’s appearance as cream pie vigilante Andre Petrescu (“Today you are cremed by the master!”). It’s not always entirely coherent and some will no doubt find its musings tedious but, slowly but surely, Cronenberg pushes our buttons and our limits.

CineVue gave the film 4 out of 5 stars:

Pattinson produces a performance rich in mood, tone and delivery, comfortably embracing a plot full of seriously bizarre and awkwardly funny moments, vindicating the Canadian master’s bold call. In support, Paul Giamatti, Juliette Binoche and Sarah Gadon are also well-chosen for their respective – if slight – roles.

Cosmopolis is a hugely timely piece that, during its production, fortuitously happened to mirror the various ‘Occupy’ movements taking place on a global scale. It’s cinematic release is certainly foreboding, telling a dark story – in typical Cronenbergian fashion – that is very close to home today; a stylish think-piece for our times.

Excerpt from DIY, giving the film 8/10:

A refreshingly bold David Cronenberg film.

It’s hard to imagine another actor making such a remarkable impact as Pattinson. In every single wordy scene, he is incredible, from his subtly twitchy opening frame to the warped sexual tension displayed during his medical exam and how masterfully he utters every challenging line, imbuing them with world-weariness and logic. It’s a breakthrough performance for the Twilight star, who has consistently chosen interesting projects despite his heart-throb status, and Cronenberg’s brave casting has paid off. Pattinson is riveting throughout – there is a maelstrom of fierce intelligence in his financial wunderkind, bubbling under a controlled stoniness. It’s a layered performance, one of the best of the year, that makes the often pretentious and unrelatable theories believable and compelling. Pattinson holds this stagey yet visually memorable film together, even when it unravels unsatisfyingly – he makes the film worth your while. You won’t see another film starring an A-list idol this brave for a long time.

Excerpt from Konekt who gave the film 3 out of 4 stars:

This might explain why Cosmopolis works: in spite of the deadness of the characters and oblique nature of DeLillo’s narrative, Cronenberg imbues this aimless tale with slithery urgency. His movie has a slick exterior, but it’s not all body. Cosmopolis is very cerebral, perhaps uncompromisingly so, completed with characters from prostitutes to lowlives who nevertheless can articulate themselves with academic precision.

At 108 minutes, Cosmopolis is aggressively talky. But unlike Cronenberg’s last film A Dangerous Method, another dialogue-driven endeavour, Cosmopolis doesn’t feel nearly as earthbound in its narrative and Cronenberg no longer yields to drab formalisms. While this DeLillo adaptation has an undeniable staginess, it is rarely inert. Cronenberg’s visual style is alive and hands-on as ever, even if his knack for clarity is not. His ideas are like an action-painting, creativity tossed energetically on the canvas.

TimeOut gave the film 3 out of 5 stars:

There’s a consistent air of charged, end-of-days menace running through the film, which Cronenberg handles with an unbroken sense of precision and confidence. He’s well served, too, by a leering, disintegrating Pattinson, giving a commanding, sympathetic portrait of a man being consumed by his own vanity and power.

From Den of Geek, who gave the film 4 out of 5 stars:

Slowly stripped of both Packer’s literal and metaphorical armour as the film progresses, the quality of Pattinson’s performance is brought into sharp focus in the film’s climactic scene. Going toe-to-toe with the superb Giamatti in an extended face-off, Pattinson more than holds his own with the veteran actor.

If you’re interested in seeing a top-of-the-line director working with great actors and provocative material in a form that English language cinema seems to have all but turned its back on, then Cronenberg’s latest is definitely worth both your time and money.

From Total Film:

Cosmopolis is a game-changer for [Pattinson].

He’s distant, sardonic, nihilistic, enigmatic and very watchable. It’s intriguing to imagine how different it might have been with original lead Colin Farrell, a man with proven shadowy sexual charisma (Fright Night) and compact star power (Phone Booth).

But Cronenberg has helped lift another level of performance from Pattinson, who channels his vampiric blankness for deeper purposes and never disappears completely behind Packer’s black suit and shades. Cinematographer Peter Suschitzky’s precise, clinical visuals put Pattinson under intense scrutiny. But he chews through the challenge of Cronenberg’s immensely literate script – lifted hand over hand from the prose in Don DeLillo’s dense, stylish novel – with real confidence.

From Cinemablographer

Eric’s confrontation with Benno is a great tour-de-force for Pattinson and Giamatti in which Eric must finally face up to the consequences of capitalism.

From The Coast (Halifax’s Weekly):

Financial jargon spun into pure poetry

It could all quickly get self-indulgent, but Cronenberg is masterful here. His screenplay wisely keeps much of DeLillo’s jazzy prose, which pushes financial jargon into the realm of poetry. Pattinson too delivers an inhuman performance, as cold and sharp as porcelain. This is a symposium on the spectre of capitalism, so bring a friend. You’re going to want to talk about it afterwards.

LOVEFiLM gave Cosmopolis 5 out of 5 stars:

That’s David Cronenberg’s adaptation of Don DeLillo’s 2003 novel in a nutshell, and if you have been fooled by that kickass trailer into expecting something dynamic and punchy, well you have been fooled, because the movie is a different beast entirely.

But it is brilliant, I think, a long-awaited return to the kind of subversive science fantasy that used to be Cronenberg’s specialty, before he went all respectable (well, I exaggerate, but A Dangerous Method, Eastern Promises and A History of Violence are well-behaved films in comparison).

Cosmopolis received a mixed-to-lukewarm reception at the tail end of Cannes last month, but people weren’t prepared for its weirdness, the talk and the static and the Pattinson… It’s a strange combination. What we have is pure Cronenberg; his most Cronenbergian movie since eXistenZ (which was his last solo script credit, not so coincidentally), and in many ways a throwback to Naked Lunch and Videodrome.

Some folks are reluctant to admit Robert Pattinson can act. They will come round eventually. The guy is more than his haircut. This is a talky script, but he navigates it with skill and conviction, especially the lengthy two-hander with Paul Giamatti at the climax.

Slyly funny and at least as philosophical as it is political – by which I mean it’s as concerned with existential angst as much as social inequities – I predict Cosmopolis will come to be seen a one of Cronenberg’s purest accomplishments.

From The Varsity:

I personally admire Cronenberg’s daring. Cosmopolis is a cinematic curiosity; to some, it may seem misshapen (much like Eric Packer’s prostate). My recommendation is to get in the car and go with the flow of the traffic. I predict future viewers will pull this one over, ask, “what happened?” and find brilliance.

Bleeding Cool didn’t care for the film much (“Despite the above negativity, this is by no means a terrible film.”) but loved Kevin Durand:

Best of all, Eric Packer’s bodyguard is played by none other than Kevin Durand! Durand is a fantastic actor who constantly crops up in films and leaves me spending a happy ten minutes recalling all the times he’s guest-starred in TV shows that I like.

His is one of the best performances in Cosmopolis; moreover, the character of Torval is an impressively dedicated bodyguard, who walks alongside Packer’s limousine all the way across town and occasionally elbow-drops rioters who gets too close.

So, in summary, I didn’t like Cosmopolis much, but it does have a certain appeal and I’d recommend seeing it if only for its uniqueness. You should also watch it because it has Kevin Durand kicking ass, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

CBC News gave the film a 2 out of 5 but it reads as though they’re still working through their thoughts:

In this realm, it’s obvious why Pattinson has become Cronenberg’s new Viggo: he has the aquiline profile of a Cronenbergian protagonist and a certain feral cunning in his cold, dark eyes. More importantly, there’s nothing standing in the way of the script. Pattinson is a vessel, a piece of glass. In between delivering his lines of dialogue, he is so still that one questions his existence. It’s a quandary magnified by the introduction of a parade of employees connected to the billionaire. Jay Baruchel is a jittery IT specialist. Emily Hampshire is an executive-slash-single mom. The vivacious Juliette Binoche is an art dealer who also trades in baser desires. Her warmth is contrasted against Sarah Gadon’s frigid demeanour as Packer’s new wife.

In and out of the limo they go, each more emotional than the last, while Packer crawls toward his destination. At one point, the limo is enveloped by rioters waving rats and spray-painting its windows. Even as the protesters rock the car on its chassis, Pattinson rides out the storm, sipping his vodka with a repressed smirk.

You could almost view Cosmopolis as a transformation of sorts, as Packer slowly emerges from his shell as his fortune evaporates. Perhaps it’s an absurd farce, as Pattinson suggested in our recent interview.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars for Cosmopolis from the Montreal Gazette:

Juliette Binoche makes a delectably saucy appearance; rapper K’Naan has a minor part; a dishevelled Paul Giamatti plays a pivotal role in the homestretch; Montreal actor Abdul Ayoola (who moonlights as head of security at Metropolis) scores some quality screen time in a late scene as Packer’s driver, Ibrahim; and Toronto electro-rock act Metric ties it all together with a groovy score.

But this film rests squarely on Pattinson’s broad shoulders, and in the brooding features of his perfectly chiselled face. Cronenberg is at play in this slippery, surreal affair that is best appreciated with open ears and an open mind – and begs to be seen twice.

From Total Film with 3 out of 5 stars:

[Pattinson is] distant, sardonic, nihilistic, enigmatic and very watchable.

But Cronenberg has helped lift another level of performance from Pattinson, who channels his vampiric blankness for deeper purposes and never disappears completely behind Packer’s black suit and shades. Cinematographer Peter Suschitzky’s precise, clinical visuals put Pattinson under intense scrutiny. But he chews through the challenge of Cronenberg’s immensely literate script – lifted hand over hand from the prose in Don DeLillo’s dense, stylish novel – with real confidence.

3 stars from Screen Jabber:

No doubt the arch dialogue and stylised performance will irk some, but Pattinson does excellent work here. If this is a conscious attempt to move away from Edward Cullen, he couldn’t have chosen a better project (although I can still dream about what a Cronenberg-directed Breaking Dawn would have been like). Pattinson is in every scene; all the other performers merely drop in to his story. Cronenberg has gathered a great supporting cast that includes, in addition to the aforementioned Morten and Almaric, Binoche, Baruchel and a brilliantly deranged Giamatti.

Cosmopolis is provocative and full of ideas, but it seems to skate along the surface of current events without penetrating deeply and offering any real insight. This is disappointing from Cronenberg, who I consider to be one of the great artists working in the medium of film. However, this may be a problem on my part, and I shall be revisiting this awkward, chilly, difficult movie again soon.

This entry was posted in Cosmopolis, David Cronenberg, Reviews, Robert Pattinson and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to REVIEWS: Cosmopolis is “slyly funny and at least as philosophical as it is political”

  1. eligit says:

    your coverage is truly encyclopedic. well done!

  2. Pingback: Más Reviews: Cosmópolis es “maliciosamente divertida y menos filosófica, ya que es política”

  3. Pingback: More Great Cosmopolis Reviews « Thinking of Rob

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