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The Playlist (A)
It’s fitting that Pattinson, today’s It boy, plays Packer, considering who Cronenberg’s Packer is. As a former start-up wunderkind, the 28 year-old Packer is comically death-obsessed. “We die every day,” he risibly exclaims to one of his sizeable retinue of advisors. Packer gets daily check-ups from his doctors partly because he enjoys the routine of it but also because he’s looking for something to confirm his suspicions. He’s convinced he’s found that something when he’s told that his prostate is asymmetrical. It’s pretty funny to see Pattinson, being the young, pretty tabula rasa that he is, play Packer, a wheeler-dealer that used to be hot shit but is now unable to sleep because he fears that he’s no longer relevant.
At the same time, Cronenberg doesn’t slim down DeLillo’s simultaneously sprawling and precisely dense narrative as much as he carves his own flourishes onto it. A couple of scenes, including Packer’s interest in bidding on a chapel full of art, and his visit to a night club full of drug-fueled ravers, are only necessary to establish a uniform pace to Cronenberg’s narrative. But in that sense, these scenes are just as essential as the ones where Kinski and Torval give Packer advice. Everything matters in Cronenberg’s "Cosmopolis," but not everything is necessarily the same as DeLillo’s book. And that makes the film, as a series of discussions about inter-related money-minded contradictions, insanely rich and maddeningly complex. We can’t wait to rewatch it. [A]
The stylised nature of the language will limit this film's appeal, and its self-conscious craziness might also be testing to some (why does the professional barber Eric finally visits cut huge steps in his hair?). And after Water For Elephants it remains to be seen whether Pattinson's teen following really is willing to follow him anywhere. But Cosmopolis does prove that he has the chops, and he parlays his cult persona beautifully into the spoiled, demanding Packer, a man so controlling and ruthless that only he has the power to ruin himself. Lean and spiky – with his clean white shirt he resembles a groomed Sid Vicious – Pattinson nails a difficult part almost perfectly, recalling those great words of advice from West Side Story: You wanna live in this crazy world? Play it cool.
Little White Lies
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.
Very neatly abridged by Cronenberg himself from the 2003 novel by American postmodernist writer, Don DeLillo, his screenplay filets out much of the dialogue from the source while expunging the flashbacks, dreams and internal monologues. 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.
The dialogue is rapid-fire, so much so that it leaves bullet holes. And as Eric goes across town in his ridiculous car -- with the world coming to him in the form of business meetings, sexual liaisons and even doctor's appointments in the back of the limo -- we realize that Eric is the epitome of modern capitalism. The titans who make our world are small, broken people. And, interestingly enough, if you're casting for a dead-eyed shark wreathed in unearned privilege, Pattinson turns out to be a pretty good choice.
The Film Stage
In David Cronenberg’s adaptation of Cosmopolis, a novel by post modern author Don DeLillo, the Canadian filmmaker tackles a dense criticism of capitalism, greed and class. Featuring an ensemble cast built on quick cameos, the film is anchored by a solid, ennui-filled performance by Robert Pattinson, shedding his Twilight skin for something more substantive and reminiscent of Christian Bale in American Pyscho.
Time Out London
That said, 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.
Bankable Twilight saga star Robert Pattinson is fine in the main part: if his Eric Packer is a little cold, a touch robotic, then so is Cronenberg’s unapologetically stylised approach to the story; this was never going to be a role that called for big emotions. But it’s difficult to see Pattinson’s youth appeal skewing this arthouse product’s audience towards the teen market – it’s just too slow and too talky.
Give David Cronenberg credit for one thing: His choice to cast Robert Pattinson was an inspired and brilliant decision. While Cosmopolis is a bit too one-note to allow any proclamations about Pattinson's range, his opaque, handsome, sometimes robot-like face compliments Cronenberg's themes and styles perfectly. In terms of what the director seems to be aiming for here, his cold performance is nearly flawless.
Lovefilm (Same critic from Digital Spy)
Sure to split the critics here in Cannes, it sees Robert Pattinson take on the boldest role of his career as a bored multi-billionaire riding a limousine through Manhattan to get a haircut. Confined to mostly the inside of the soundproof limo, Cosmopolis feels like more like black-box theatre than cinema as a series of characters deliver dense, difficult monologues that seem to mean everything and nothing.
It was a smart choice to cast Pattinson, whose blankness seems channeled for nihilistic sarcasm as he screws Juliette Binoche, listens to Samantha Morton talk time and money and takes a pie in the face from Mathieu Amalric. But Cronenberg’s artily staged satire of a capitalist modern world self-destructing never gets out of second gear.
This is the richest, wittiest, most stimulating material Cronenberg has had to work with in a decade – not for nothing is it his first self-scripted feature since “eXistenZ” – but it will take further viewing and consideration for this writer to decide if the finished film, briskly paced and unapologetically talky as it is, quite makes good on the opportunity. As it stands, the permanently on-message postulating of “Cosmopolis” proves a little wearing, though perhaps more so to jaded patrons on their tenth day of festival viewing. Cronenberg’s keenness to cram as many of DeLillo’s words into a script that amounts to little more than a sequence of ornate two-person conversates threatens inertia, but the film largely avoids dullness.
What’s most surprising is it’s the scenes within Packer’s limo (notably a febrile sex scene between Pattison and a luminously cameoing Juliette Binoche) that are tautest and most flammable. When the film ventures out onto the street, the energy – or, if not energy, the effectively slippery equivalent inherent in Pattinson’s compelling screen presence – dissipates. Longtime Cronenberg loyalist Peter Suchitzky’s camera certainly responds best to claustrophia, invasive too-close-ups and just-too-high angles lending the whole film the sense of a security surveillance tape from purgatory, matters made no less disconcerting by the compressed silent yawns of the sound design and the hovering insinuations of Howard Shore’s spare electro-influenced score, all of which recall smaller, nastier works from the director dating all the way back to “Stereo.” Even when we can’t quite decipher its message, there’s a hint of the didactic about “Cosmopolis” that speaks to its late place in the director’s canon; its emptily chaotic environment, however, is classic Cronenbergia creation, as invigoratingly and reassuringly strange as can be.
An eerily precise match of filmmaker and material, "Cosmopolis" probes the soullessness of the 1% with the cinematic equivalent of latex gloves. Applying his icy intelligence to Don DeLillo's prescient 2003 novel, David Cronenberg turns a young Wall Street titan's daylong limo ride into a coolly corrosive allegory for an era of technological dependency, financial failure and pervasive paranoia, though the dialogue-heavy manner in which it engages these concepts remains distancing and somewhat impenetrable by design. While commercial reach will be limited to the more adventurous end of the specialty market, Robert Pattinson's excellent performance reps an indispensable asset.
Charges that this study in emptiness and alienation itself feels empty and alienating are at once accurate and a bit beside the point, and perhaps the clearest confirmation that Cronenberg has done justice to his subject. In presenting such a close-up view of Eric's inner sanctum, the film invites the viewer's scorn and fascination simultaneously; to that end, the helmer has an ideal collaborator in Pattinson, whose callow yet charismatic features take on a seductively reptilian quality here. It's the actor's strongest screen performance and certainly his most substantial.
Its experimental nature means that "Cosmopolis" severely limits the potency of the message -- that is, you either accept Cronenberg's negative approach or reject it outright on the basis of the movie's persistent academic approach. If viewed more as visual essay than movie, however, "Cosmopolis" is a successful assault on modern social constructs. The final image mirrors the concluding visual of "eXistenZ," Cronenberg's pre-"Matrix" assault on reality, and "Cosmoplis" certainly shares it skepticism over making assumptions about the way the world works. With that provocative ending, "Cosmopolis" demonstrates that even a flawed throwback to Cronenberg's roots proves they run fairly deep.
Filmoria (5 stars)
But the film’s true driving force (excuse the pun) is Pattinson’s utterly fearless, audacious and sizzling performance. Both Twilight stars have now had films here in Cannes and both Kristen Stewart and Pattinson have given some of the festival’s strongest roles. Packer is a multi-layered, cynical, and chillingly captivating character; he’s a gritty brush-stroke of our modern day society, a itching rash that demands attending to. The world in which Packer resides in is one of disgusting wealth and luxury yet crippling doubt, paranoia, and self-loathing. Pattinson’s darkly comic and distressingly real performance here embodies everything Cosmopolis desires to express; he whispers and scuttles but his manners and aura leave a deafening echo hanging in the tainted, dystopian atmosphere.
Cronenberg’s latest will not be for everyone – it’s a slinky, scabby and repressed black dramedy that’s unobliging and unconventional – I’m sure some ‘Twihards’ will enter upon release simply for R-Patz and leave the cinema feeling either bored, bruised or baffled, but for those who enjoy challenging, alternative and uncompromising pictures, Cosmopolis is your drink of choice.
Telegraph UK (4 stars)
Cosmopolis picks up on and runs with all three of the central themes that have emerged over the last 11 days of the Festival: our response to chaos; the collapse of the era of excess; and the terror, and comedy, of death. It could almost be a bizarro prequel to Leos Carax’s Holy Motors, another film in which a limo ride becomes an odyssey. At its heart is a sensational central performance from Robert Pattinson – yes, that Robert Pattinson – as Packer. Pattinson plays him like a human caldera; stony on the surface, with volcanic chambers of nervous energy and self-loathing churning deep below.