Cosmopolis

2012

Cosmopolis (2012)

TOMATOMETER

Critic Consensus: Though some may find it cold and didactic, Cosmopolis benefits from David Cronenberg's precise direction, resulting in a psychologically complex adaptation of Don DeLillo's novel.

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New York City, not-too-distant-future: Eric Packer, a 28 year-old finance golden boy dreaming of living in a civilization ahead of this one, watches a dark shadow cast over the firmament of the Wall Street galaxy, of which he is the uncontested king. As he is chauffeured across midtown Manhattan to get a haircut at his father's old barber, his anxious eyes are glued to the yuan's exchange rate: it is mounting against all expectations, destroying Eric's bet against it. Eric Packer is losing his empire with every tick of the clock. Meanwhile, an eruption of wild activity unfolds in the city's streets. Petrified as the threats of the real world infringe upon his cloud of virtual convictions, his paranoia intensifies during the course of his 24-hour cross-town odyssey. Packer starts to piece together clues that lead him to a most terrifying secret: his imminent assassination. -- (C) Official Site

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Critic Reviews for Cosmopolis

All Critics (172) | Top Critics (35)

The rapid dialogue is dry and mannered, like a David Mamet play, there's virtually no story and Cronenberg's visual scheme is cold and claustrophobic.

Sep 6, 2012 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

It feels like each and every moment bursts forth with urgent dialogue, and yet what does anyone actually say?

Aug 24, 2012 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

There's not really a movie there, nothing that sustains itself from scene to scene and nothing that's worth watching from beginning to end.

Aug 23, 2012 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

"Cosmopolis," because of its allegiance to the book's mannered, offbeat language, feels like it never wakes up.

Aug 23, 2012 | Rating: 2/4

Poor Pattinson does the best he can. He's not terrible. But he's definitely out of his element, if not beyond his depth, an altar boy in a bishop's robes.

Aug 23, 2012 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

The story seems to cleave into cerebral disquisition and primal sex.

Aug 23, 2012 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Cosmopolis

A young financial genius is intent on taking his limo across Manhattan to get a haircut from his father's old barber, despite the fact that the streets are gridlocked due to a Presidential visit, "occupy Wall Street"-type protestors are rioting, and there is a credible death threat against him. It's a talky, symbolic and obliquely philosophical movie, for sure, and it will turn most viewers off; but, in its confused way it does reflect our current psychology of income gap anger and financial apocalypse anxiety.

Greg S
Greg S

Super Reviewer

½

Adapted from a work by Don DeLillo, this is a story set in near-distant future New York about Eric Packer- a 28 year-old billionaire currency speculator/asset manager who callously watches his world crumble before him during a 24 hour odyssey as he slowly cruises across town in his limo on his way to get a haircut. His limo is tricked out and state-of-the-art. It's basically his own little microcosm he seals himself in to avoid the dregs of society outside. The story is rather surreal in tone, and feels otherworldly. Oddly though, it feels timely too, as some of the stuff Eric encounters parallel real world events. It seems odd that it would take him all day to get to his preferred barber, but the traffic jams he's caught in are the result of a presidential visit, the funeral procession of his favorite musician ( a Sufi rap artist), and anti-capitalist demonstrations by an Occupy-style group. Along the way, besides encountering said traffic slowing obstacles, Eric also conducts business in his limo, including trysts with a few women, a meeting with his new, albeit frigid and bored wife, meetings with co-workers and, a prostate exam with odd results. He also sees his business dealings falter, and learns someone is apparently out to assassinate him. This is all very troubling stuff, but he seems to be rather uncaring, if not welcoming of this ruin. The film concludes with a lengthy confrontation with the apparent assassin, highlighted by a very lengthy philosophical discussion. This seems like pretty perfect material for writer/director David Cronenberg. It's odd, thought provoking, and a real head trip at times. Unfortunately, it's also largely dull, if not really boring, ends anti-anticlimactically, and feels really under cooked, which makes sense given that Cronenberg wrote the script in like 6 days. It at least is shot well, looks great, and tries to do something meaningful, even if it falls short. I applaud Robert Pattinson for trying something different and ambitious, but I don't think this'll quite help him shed the long shadow cast by Twilight. He's backed by some interesting supporting players like Jay Baruchel, Mathieu Amalric, Samantha Morton, Juliette Binoche, and Paul Giamatti, but none of them really do anything spectacular or groundbreaking. I wanted to like this. It seemed like it would be really intense and gripping, and, while it does have its moments, it goes on for way too long, and proves to be largely 'meh' more than anything else.

Chris Weber
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

Elise Shifrin: Where is your office? What do you do exactly? You know things, I think this is what you do. I think you acquire information and turn it into something awful. I would have to say that enjoying this movie depends completely on your ability to understand Robert Pattinson's character. If you can't, it's going to be hard to like this film. Cosmopolis is a movie of immense potential and incredible setup. What it lacks in though are the things that make movies easy to watch and get into. I was fully engaged the whole film because the thin plot had a lot of great ideas and philosophical meanings behind them, but it was missing everything from dialogue that sounded real to actors that seemed real. The only saving grace as far as acting goes was Paul Giamatti's scene at the end of the movie. Everyone else was dull and boring, as was the dialogue that was coming from their mouths.  Cosmopolis follows a rich, young man who we assume works on Wall Street. The economy is beginning to collapse and all around the city are protestors who want blood. They want Eric Packers blood too. He is constantly being updated by his bodyguard of the impending situation. Eric doesn't seem at all fazed by it though, as he drifts around the city in his limousine, talking with other people, and just trying to make it to get his haircut. Like I said, the plot is thin. There's not much in the way of action either, as it is mostly weird, dull dialogue.  Cronenberg is still one of those directors that I fail to understand. As with Lynch, I love his ideas and I like his complete dedication to his projects, but he fails to present it in an interesting way at times. This wad the case here with Cosmopolis. It's not completely his fault though, as Pattinson made his character almost impossible to listen to, with a soft, boring voice and so little emotion, I wondered if he was alive at times when he wasn't talking.  This isn't something I liked, but I do have a certain respect for it. It has a feel all its own, as every Cronenberg film does. The cinematography is extremely well done and the movie is obviously made with the intent to make the audience think. It did manage to do that, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized; I didn't like what I was watching.

Melvin White
Melvin White

Super Reviewer

½

David Cronenberg is a director that's full of surprises. The biggest surprise about Cosmopolis, his new film based on the Don DeLillo novella, is how shockingly terrible it is. This may be Cronenberg's worst film. It's certainly one of the worst films of 2012. Eric Packer (Robert Pattinson) is a mega-millionaire currency trader. He's got so much money he wants to outrightly buy a church just because. We travel with Eric over the course of one day as he travels through New York City in his stretch limo. Along the way, he hosts a colorful array of characters and fears that his high-stakes wagers will be adding up. He becomes more and more self-destructive and looks for new and exciting ways to waste money, talent, and time. I hesitate to even use the term film with Cosmopolis because it's truly more of an endurance test in didactic, pretentious art house masturbation. The script is really a collection of self-indulgent scenes with very little to connect anything together. Each new scene feels like the movie is starting over. Worse, the dialogue is painfully elliptical, stilted, and monotone, reeking of pseudo intellectual intent, lingering in ambiguity like it's poetic. It's not, it's irritating and obtuse and character talk in circles without ever really saying anything. It's the kind of dialogue that reminds me of a pompous student play, something where the particulars involved think they're making Artistically Daring Statements about Things That Matter. It's such a mannered way of speaking, so labored in its affectations and superficially drawn to the mistaken belief that obtuse and redundant equals philosophical and thought provoking. The only thoughts I was thinking were of the murderous variety. I felt so pained that I had to check the time and only eleven minutes had passed. It felt like I had spent three times that amount. I stuck it out for you, dear reader, but otherwise I would have bailed. Here are a handful of dialogue samples to give you an idea: "Why do they call them airports?" "I have an asymmetrical prostate. What does that mean?" "Try putting a stick of gum in your mouth and not chew it." "Where do limos go to spend the night?" I feel like I'm even doing a disservice to calling the people onscreen as characters. They?re really more just talking heads, mouthpieces for cluttered ideology. The plot introduces new characters but they only last for a scene and then it's time for someone knew. This would be acceptable if it ever appeared that these interactions had any effect, positive or negative, on our protagonist. As it stands, it's just a gloomy guy running into one meaningless encounter after another. Oh, and if that was the point of the whole exercise, then shoot me now. I literally cheered when the movie was over. Well, right after incredulously barking, "That's it?" Plot is another term, much like characters, that has next to no meaning for Cosmopolis. The plot is a wealthy guy who wants to get a haircut. Yes, that is the inciting incident. He stays in his limo as it slowly drifts down the bumper-to-bumper New York City traffic. He has encounters with people, sure, but mostly it's the story of one man in his pursuit of a haircut. And you know what dear reader, spoilers be damned, but he gets that haircut too. The final half hour of the movie, almost a third of the whole running time, is spent with Paul Giamatti, an intense and angry man who wants to kill Eric. At least Giamatti's performance kept me awake. The plot, much like the characters, is really a vehicle for the script's ideas, so it becomes exasperating when the movie tries to pretend, at points, like now all of a sudden we should care about Eric and his journey. The ideas, as presented, are either on-the-nose or impenetrable. For every confusing conversation about death, you'll get a capitalism = rats metaphor. Pattinson (Breaking Dawn Part 2) seems like an apt choice as well as a craven marketing ploy for Cronenberg to get his weird arty movie greater exposure and financing. Pattinson gives a rather cold and detached performance, which I'm sure is also the point but it's not exactly an outlet to showcase any potential range. I'm sure Pattinson leaped at the chance to work with Cronenberg, but he should have checked out his emotionally vacant character first. Oh I get it that Eric is a guy who seemingly has it all but now feels empty, and I get how it's meant to be an analogue for the Wall Street set that?s hijacked our capitalism markets (rats!). I get it. It's just lousy, and Pattinson could have been replaced with just about any young Hollywood hunk. The only enjoyable aspect of this whole movie, and this is simply a theoretical extension, is that plenty of diehard Twilight fans are going to watch this movie and be very very confused. Cronenberg keeps us locked in that limo, at least for the first half of the film. We get to watch Eric host an array of guests. He gets serviced by a middle-aged woman (Juliette Binoche). He gets a prostate exam while conducting a meeting. He gets up-to-the-minute reports on the millions of dollars he?s hemorrhaging, and he doesn't care. Money has lost all known value when everything is given to you. Look, I can make vague, self-important statements too. I'll credit Cronenberg with finding creative ways to play around within the confined space of the limo, making the film less hermetic than it by all means should be. However, bad green screen effect work really proves distracting, so that you're given another reason to check out when characters drone on as they do. Strictly put, this was not a story that needed to be turned into a movie. I'm sure DeLillo's novella has its own weight and power, but the big-screen adaptation of Cosmopolis is all flaccid pontification, empty verbal masturbation, and crushing dead weight. It was a Herculean effort for me to watch this meandering movie to the end and I know I can't be alone in this regard. If only the characters were really characters, or the plot had any minute sense of momentum, or that the dialogue was less purposely obtuse, or if the movie felt like it was at least going somewhere or had some small recognizable shred of purpose. I won't go as far to say you should be worried if any of your friends gush to you about how great this movie is, but you should probably keep an eye on them or see if they bumped their head. This movie is more like an insufferable lecture by the most boring people who confuse cerebral with impenetrable. If you're not going to supply me any significant means of entry to engage with your art, then I'll just go play with somebody else. Cosmopolis feels like the worst and most pretentious student film you'll ever see. The rub is that a great director like Cronenberg made it. Nate's Grade: D

Nate Zoebl
Nate Zoebl

Super Reviewer

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