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Film review: ‘Cosmopolis’

Robert Pattinson gets in touch with his inner Dirty Harry in a scene from Cosmopolis.

The Details

Four stars
Robert Pattinson, Sarah Gadon, Juliette Binoche. Directed by David Cronenberg
Rated R. Now playing.
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IMDb: Cosmopolis
Rotten Tomatoes: Cosmopolis

Robert Pattinson may never prove to be a great actor, but if there were an Oscar for Best Credibility-Enhancing Career Move, he’d have it in the bag. As affectless billionaire Eric Packer, the protagonist of David Cronenberg’s sometimes thrilling, sometimes frustrating adaptation of Don DeLillo’s novel Cosmopolis, Pattinson nails the very tricky, precise tone demanded by the novel’s unapologetically inhuman dialogue. Like the book, the film follows Packer as he undergoes a day-long odyssey across Manhattan in a gigantic stretch limo in order to get a haircut he doesn’t even need, encountering a gaggle of employees, assassins and random hot chicks en route. There’s no story to speak of, just a series of financial and philosophical conversations delivered at rapid-fire speed; it’s not important that you understand what’s being said so much as recognize how a particular mode of communication can both reflect and influence the way people think.

The more abstract and overtly stylized Cosmopolis is—as when Packer discusses abstruse metaphysical ideas with his chief theorist (Samantha Morton)—the better it “works,” at least as an intellectual exercise. Overall, the English and Canadian actors get it, but the Americans don’t quite, which becomes especially problematic in the film’s long final scene, featuring Paul Giamatti at his most irascible. Giamatti’s character is admittedly intended as a contrast to the others, but introducing genuine human feeling into this antiseptic bubble-world doesn’t provide the intended catharsis. Only slow deflation.


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Previous Discussion:

  • A balance of strong humor with serious danger and uncertainty with a cast full of great actors.

  • Remarkably, the film gradually neutralizes its apparent protagonist, adding to a harrowing experience.

  • Ken Jeong has had scene-stealing roles as oddball characters, but a little of his manic energy goes a long way.

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