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Cannes Review Round-Up: David Cronenberg’s “Cosmopolis” with Robert Pattinson

Cannes Review Round-Up: David Cronenberg's "Cosmopolis" with Robert Pattinson

If anything, judging from Cannes critics, David Cronenberg’s “Cosmopolis” is a faithful adaptation of the Don DeLillo source material.  The consensus is that Cronenberg keeps his fierce and trim style, despite striving to stay true to the novella.  The director retained long stretches of dialogue from the book and incorporated complicated details of the deceptively simple plot. “Cosmopolis” tells the story of a 28-year-old billionaire (Robert Pattinson) who attempts to cross Manhattan in order to get a haircut.  

 As for the billionaire and the rest of the cast? This might not mark Pattinson’s complete break from young heartthrob status, but he plays the dissolute and glacial financial golden boy well, most critics agree. Although he is trying to distinguish himself from the “Twilight” world, Pattinson may not have quit the teen fantasy genre: rumors are abounding that he will play Finnick Odair in “The Hunger Games” sequel.  The supporting cast, including Paul Giamatti and Juliette Binoche, inject humanity in the movie which contrasts with Pattinson’s intentionally cold central character.

No consensus score on Rotten Tomatoes as of this writing, review round-up below:

Eric Kohn, IndieWire
“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.”

Justin Chang, Variety
“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.”

Kyle Buchanan, Vulture, New York Magazine
“Both Pattinson and Zac Efron have come to Cannes with the hopes of shaking up their heartthrob personas, but while Efron goes opaque in the eyes during crucial scenes in ‘The Paperboy,’ Pattinson is able to convey a whole lot about his ‘Cosmopolis’ character simply with a curdled sneer and a soul-sick gaze. He’s skilled at delivering the tricky DeLillo dialogue, too, which Cronenberg has preserved in huge swaths for his adaptation.”

Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
“Well, you don’t go to a Cronenberg movie for comedy, but rather for something exciting, exotic, daring and precise: really, none of those things is present in this agonisingly self-conscious and meagre piece of work.”

James Rocchi, The Hitlist
“A chilly, crisp and crystal-shard sharp satire of our money-crazed world, ‘Cosmopolis’ takes us on a limo ride through the collapse of modern society: We’re not behind the wheel for this ride, but rest assured, in the end, we’re going to have to get out and pay for it.”

Jeffrey Wells, Hollywood Elsewhere
“It’s too familiar, too regimented, too claustropobic, too obvious. Yes, you’re constantly aware of Cronenberg’s fierce behind-the-camera talent, his determination to stay with his apparently quite faithful screenplay of DeLillo’s book and to not cop out by making a film about how Packer used to be human but is now an alien although there might be a way out. That’s not the Cronenberg way. He gives it to you his way, and you just have to sit there and take it.”

Brian Clark, Twitch Film
“Cronenberg doesn’t quite get this right until the last act of the film, in which he makes a subtle shift towards humanity and emotion while still maintaining the film’s disaffected tone. In fact, the film’s conclusion, and in effect, the rest of the movie too, gradually becomes deeper and more hard-hitting upon reflection.”

Lee Marshall, Screen Daily
“The main problem with “Cosmopolis” the film, however, is one which John Updike had already put his finger on in his New Yorker review of the book: ‘The trouble with a tale where anything can happen,’ he wrote, ‘is that somehow nothing happens.'”

Raffi Asdourian, Huffington Post
“There is a familiarity to the over-indulgent splatter of doctrine and theories that for some will surely tickle their brainy appetite. Despite the interesting concepts, there is no escaping the lack of cinematic energy that keeps Cosmopolis from feeling like anything more than a perfunctory adaptation.”

Damon Wise, Empire
“Somehow David Cronenberg’s ‘Cosmopolis’ articulates everything I think about post-financial crisis capitalism, ie, the world today. It goes without saying that it is weird, but even from the director of “existent” and “Videodrome: it is bizarre, with the mannered, affected performances of the former and the outsider characters of the latter.”

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