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Eric Packer, genial asset manager, sitting in his limo, contemplating
about himself and his visions while playing with numbers that represent
an immense fortune, behaving almost in an autistic way once he tries to
connect with the real world outside. Eric Packer also as the symbol of
the small financial elite that rules our planet, arrogant, shameless
and above all what's common and human.
What happens when you have all you want? When there's no challenge, no real desire anymore? When the last goal you want to pursue is, like a real Icarus, to fly so close to the sun that you can't but let melt the wax of your wings and fall, very deep?
This is, IMO, the essence of the story in Cosmopolis, with that difference that the protagonist in DeLillo's novel caused his downfall intentionally, while the financial disaster we live in the last few years was caused by the megalomania of the 1%.
When I first read the novel, I felt confused and a bit dumb too. DeLillo tried to send messages that I didn't understand at all. Then happened Occupy Wall Street and the pie into the face of Rupert Murdoch, so I gave the novel a second chance. I got hooked by the very complex character of Eric Packer, cold and emotionless on the outside and in his actions, but so vulnerable and lonely once you got to know him better. He's a very sad example of how far people can go in our society, just for the sake of money. I've read the book 2 times more, just to enjoy the countless, thoughtful quotes and one liners, weaved into stylistic dialogues as only DeLillo can pull off.
So, why have I written about the novel in a review about the film adaptation of this novel? Because I think that David Cronenberg did a fabulous job in trying to bring this book on screen. As a real master he has chosen to stay true to the dialogues, taking the risk that people, just like me when I first read the book, couldn't get the meanings of them.
He took from the novel what could work on screen and left scenes out, that he thought could disturb or change the mood of the movie. In the first part of the movie, he focused more on the little world of Eric into his limo rather than to shift the emphasis also outside the car. Not that I don't feel sorry some scenes didn't make it on screen (the famous street scene at the end) and for me the reality outside, in the streets of New-York, could've gotten more attention, but I can see his POV and I can live with it.
In this daring exploit Cronenberg made sure of the presence of an excellent cast, with remarkable performances of the supporting actors/actresses for the short time they appeared in the movie. The biggest challenge of course was the casting of Eric Packer, the doomed capitalist, who appears in almost every scene. Once again, David took a risk in hiring Robert Pattinson, but he was confident and he was right. Pattinson nailed this character to perfection. Especially when Eric (as his world) starts falling apart, Rob showed how able he is to bring out the psychotic, insane aspects of human being.
This is a movie that makes you think, that can give you an uncomfortable feeling and mirrors what's going on in some levels of our society. I understand that it is a difficult watch for people who haven't read the book, that they are disappointed but never was promised that this movie was going to be easy. The biggest issue IMHO isn't the movie itself but the fact that, in theatre, you haven't a button to pause and rewind so you can hear the dialogues again and again. Once the words are spoken, they're gone and I can imagine people reacting like WTH?? Though the movie stands on its own, it can only improve your experience if you go a bit prepared to the screening. With my review, I've tried to help those who're interested enough to give it a try. For those who didn't understand and by that didn't like the movie: even Cronenberg and Pattinson didn't understand the story quite well, but they went for it and created a masterpiece. There's nothing wrong with not understanding everything. It doesn't make the audience dumb, it doesn't make the movie bad and it doesn't make a brilliant performance less brilliant.
Sorry for mistakes as English isn't my first language.
This is a very profound and insightful film. It focuses on dialogues
more than action, not a lot of things happen. It is demanding for the
audience, yes, but every line of dialogue suggests, every line holds a
Cosmopolis is like an essay about our times and the times to come. What is derivative in our system and how the human mind and the human condition is dangerously shifting. This is pure Cronenberg, very mental, talking about the society through the portrayal of individual psychology.
This is for me the most accurate yet quite pessimistic depiction I've seen of what the society of money and information means for human beings. And it digs quite far, thus can become hard to understand. Our relationship to Time has changed, you focus on minutes and seconds. It used to be manageable, but now it goes out of control. Chaotic profusion of information, self-contradiction, being an enigma for ourselves, blurry perception, blurry identity, and do we even have one ? We as a spectator can feel on the edge, as ambivalent as Eric Packer, both reflective and impulsive. Anyway, I think the viewer will throw his own inner themes in the profusion of concepts that rise from the film. Cronenberg is still the master of suggestion, window big open for interpretation.
Maybe it won't touch those who feel they perfectly fit in their times. Facebook users, people talking about money, people caring for what they've been told to care. Maybe you have to feel a bit out of phase, out of place at least sometimes to get engaged in the film.
It is brilliant in connecting the concepts together in some momentum. There is terrific cinematography by Cronenberg on depth of field and what happens inside/outside the limo -Eric Packer's inner sanctum-. Very great acting by Pattinson, Sarah Gadon, Paul Giamatti and Kevin Durand.
There are some films you watch and pretty much immediately you know
it's not enjoyable. But you stick with it. You hope that there will be
some big pay off at the end and then you'll think, wow, must watch that
again now I know where it's going.
Well I'm sorry to say, this is not quite one of those movies. True, it started off with me instantly being bored by it. Maybe five times I nearly gave up, but waited for the big pay off at the end. But instead, it was just the end.
Rarely have I been so happy a movie was over.
Considering I'm a David Cronenberg fan, this movie surprised me, it really is awful. It's like your watching some cheap movie made on a cam from someone just out of college.
The dialogue is laboured. It doesn't sound in any way natural and Robert Pattinson seems to be doing his best Christopher Walken impression, but it just doesn't work.
I don't usually write a review of films, but sometimes, people just need a warning.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Let me nail my colours to the mast. I don't like car chase, big
explosion, CGI obsessed films. On occasion I even like art house films
(last night I watched and enjoyed The Man Who Fell To Earth). But this
film was simply two hours of pseudo-intellectual reverie on the meaning
of life. I attend the cinema on average twice a week. I cannot recall a
film where so many people got up and walked out. Even those that braved
it to the end (and I was so close to leaving myself) discussed amongst
themselves afterwards why they'd wasted their time.
The dialogue was stilted and unnatural. No fault of the actors, it was the writing. The plot (not that this was ever intended to be a plot-driven film) is subtly drip-fed, hinted at, which i quite liked. There were moments of dark humour, such as when Eric converses with a female employ, all the while wincing and straining as at the other end a doctor gives him a rectal exam. These lifted my score to a three.
That aside, avoid this film. Spend two hours talking to a drugged out philosophy student instead. It will make more sense and be more entertaining.
"And a rat became the unit of currency."
I loved it, but it won't be for everyone. This is most definitely a midnight movie. It's a challenging and dense movie, not much of a plot, with the focus on lots of talking and long shots. A neo noir in looks and feel about corporations, capitalism, the future, rats as currency, and a highly philosophical, self-destructive corporate analyst of some clandestine organization simply called "Complex".
From the first shot to the last, you're always following Eric Packer (Robert Pattinson) in nearly every scene, so everything's seen from his perspective. It's mostly a single-location movie where Eric talks to random dudes related to his company or any woman in his white stretch cyber-pimped limo with an huge protest in the background. Oh man, it looks awesome and gets messed up over the course of the film. If you're a fan of David Mamet and Richard Linklater's works like Before Sunset, Waking Life, Glengarry Glen Ross, and especially Edmond (another great midnight neo- noir), you'll feel comfortable with the pacing. A lot of talking, one- takes, long takes, of people talking about very dense corporate details with not much sense that might go over your head in a first watch. It feels very much based off a play or novel where incredibly verbose characters pontificate about corporations, the world, and time in weirdly absurd conversations. But it's not a film where all those cinematic techniques are evident or shoved into your face, I just happened to notice he had been talking to a sweaty jogger of a mother who's also Eric's chief of finance while he had his prostate examined in his limo for 6 straight minutes.
Eric Packer is a cold, alienated, and highly self-destructive almost- sociopath who goes on about the philosophy of time, corporations, how the world works, violence, and any other topic. His character reminded me heavily of Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) in American Psycho, just without all the 90s pop culture and music references. The self-destructive and hedonistic urges of upper class socialites is evident in most Cronenberg movies, and Eric is no different. The dude's bored with the world, disillusioned, and is a thrill seeker just so he can feel real while he spends most of his time in a purgatory-like limo. Like most of these heavy talking movies, the plot is sparse and it's just Eric wants to get to a barber for a haircut which hints that it's an absurd satire/comedy. He's adamant of making the trek in his white cyber limo eternally stuck in New York traffic over a whole day that goes into night instead of just walking across the street which would only take 5 min. It's almost an absurd comedy at times, like having his prostate examined in his limo by his personal doctor while talking to someone, or he and Benno (Paul Giamatti) casually shooting up an apartment and at each other with futuristic guns in the weirdest Mexican standoff. How he's so stubborn about staying in his limo even though some big, distractive "imminent scenario" is about to happen. How funny it is people related to his Complex company just happen to see his limo and jump in for a long convo.
Robert Pattinson is a captivating actor to watch, and the camera is transfixed to his face even when it's cream-pied later on thanks to an anarchist protester or "pastry assassin" played by Mathieu Amalric (Quantum of Solace, Diving Bell and the Butterfly). There's another famous French actor here with Juliette Binoche (Certified Copy, Three Colors: Blue) playing a highly sexual 41 year old "friend". This is a challenging role for Pattinson, not really for the character he plays of an upper class corporate man, but how he spars against highly experienced, well-known actors in very long single takes or one-shots. Actors just acting a lot in that stage-y way. These actors seem to come and go with not much of an arc between their characters except for a couple, as is the case with most of these heavy talking movies more focused on the journey (Waking Life, Edmond).
It's a bizarre movie, one that will require quite a few re-watches just to get the nuances of the incredibly dense and fast flowing conversations. Also, the rat protesters reminded me of eXistenZ, and the film works almost as a counter-point to that movie where instead of the anarchists, we're on the side of corporate.
I can see some people not liking the movie just because of the pacing and heavy talking nature of it, but being in love with such midnight stage-y movies like Edmond, or talky Richard Linklater films I was not as confused. The verbose conversations can only have been based off a novel. Samantha Morton as Eric's "Chief of Theory" talks about stuff you won't understand on first watch, and is emblematic of how the film's dialog gives more than you can handle, which is why I can see Cosmopolis being ripe for rewatchability. It's really an absurd comedy and satire at times with a pretty serious and cool ending scene with Paul Giamatti. People who were expecting Cronenberg's early body horror might be disappointed although there are some choice moments, but the film's definitely in his older speculative techno sci-fi style.
"My prostate's asymmetrical."
So bad, it's not even worth wasting my time writing a detailed review.
The film is a long, uninteresting, verbal masturbation session. It's two hours of proselytizing from characters you don't care about, who don't say anything you couldn't have read off an Occupy Wall Street protest sign.
Don't believe anyone who tells you it's genius.
I would have walked out of the cinema after 30 minutes if I hadn't been with a friend's family. I honestly considered feigning illness so as to have a valid excuse to leave. Hands down one of the worst films I have ever seen (this coming from someone who's seen "Weekend at Bernie's 2").
Let's say that for every 10 "Twilight" fans, at least one is guaranteed
to give "Cosmopolis" a go for no other reason than Robert Pattinson.
And among those "Twilight" fans dumb enough to mindlessly try the film
out, at least 9 of 10 will despise what they see.
David Cronenberg rather faithfully (from what I understand) adapts Don DeLillo's socio- economic commentary rolled into a film about young billionaire Eric Packer, who goes on a long limo ride across New York City for a haircut. What he fails to recognize, however, is that he was completely wasting his time; "Cosmopolis" has no business being a movie.
Cronenberg's clean and tight approach to the film can't be denied its technical kudos, but everything he films is emotionally anemic. "Cosmopolis" has no story; its characters are talking heads and its scenes just a collection of political gospel and esoteric ideologies.
Not an ounce of this film goes into giving its characters souls, and the more you hunt in search for just a sliver of one, the less attention you pay to the themes so fundamental to the film's core. If you can focus long enough in any given scene, you'll pick up some thought- provoking nuggets, but our natural curiosity as an audience is to look for the story behind the highbrow dialogue. Doing so, however, distracts from paying attention to all that can be praised about this material.
Therein lies the reason Cronenberg should have left the novel alone. Ideas like the ones presented in "Cosmopolis" deserve time to simmer. If I had read the book, I certainly would have taken the time to re-read portions of it to process the commentary on capitalism rather than thinking at multiple times throughout the film "oh, there are rats, that's a symbol for what this film is trying to say about capitalism!"
With the exception of Packer's newly made wife (Sarah Gadon), the cast of supporting characters suffers a similar fate in spite of some big names in Juliette Binoche, Paul Giamatti and Jay Baruchel. By the time you can begin to so much as chew on the ideas raised in one of any of the several scenes in which Packer meets with a new character in his limo and talks about big-time stuff, that character is gone from the film completely. You never get a moment to catch up so that you can be in step with what's going on.
Providing further distraction from understanding anything that's said in this movie is how Cronenberg as he always does charges this film with sexual and violent tension. He's not adding any that's not already in the story, but he accentuates it. Consequently, moments in the film will yank you out of your perpetual state of philosophical processing and snap you back into the moment of the film, usually a violent outburst or a quick cut to a sex scene. That's part of what makes Cronenberg a revered director, but in this case it's what makes "Cosmopolis" such a tough watch.
For those hoping to see what Pattinson does as a top-billed star given weighty material, "Cosmopolis" proves to be an unfair judge. He seems comfortable with the bizarre style of dialogue, but the character and the story are so empty that the film can hardly be considered a fair judgment of his would-be dramatic prowess.
As with any work of art steeped in its ideas, the more you sit with it or re-experience it, the more you're likely to warm up to it, and I have no reason to believe that will not be true of "Cosmopolis." At the same time, a majority of viewers will likely not be equipped with the experience of processing this language as the film necessitates, and the first run-through (obviously the most important) suffers drastically as a result.
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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Let me start by pointing out that I am very far from being a die-hard
fan of David Cronenberg's previous works, which in my opinion range
from average (a history of violence) to awful (crash) ...
Thus, I was skeptical about Cosmopolis at first, and the beginning of the movie did nothing to reassure me : "in medias res" long, intense, fast, and complex dialogs , characters appearing one after the other according to no apparent logic , etc ... However, I believe this constant overflow of information is deliberately used to make the viewer feel how overly fast, complicated and abstract is the world in which characters such as Packer live in ; moreover, the dialogs are exactly the same as in the Cosmopolis book, so it's definitely not another attempt from our friend David to drown the viewer in useless pseudo- philosophical sentences ...
Besides, as the film goes on, even if the details of the dialogs or the relationships between the characters remain elusive, it becomes gradually more immersive and, while not understanding, one can feel the oppressive atmosphere Eric Packer lives in , the climax being the marvelous face -to-face final scene !
Such an atmosphere could not have been created without the terrific job of Robert Pattinson : miles away from his former teen vampire performance, he was perfectly fit for this role : a young, handsome and bored golden boy, about to let go of the artificial world surrounding him. (the other actors do a great job as well, especially the man Eric Packer confronts in the end)
Short version : If you are ready to not understand everything, and to rather let yourself enter a very particular atmosphere, watch Cosmopolis. This movie is, to my mind, about feelings rather than logic .
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
David, Videodrome was a very long time ago!
Dialog: terrible / unbelievable / pretentious
Narrative: unclear / not present
Performances: Giamatti pretty good / all others, terrible / Pattinson: did you read this script before agreeing to the part? Juliet Binoche + Samatha Morton, why are you in this movie? Your parts are terrible! There is no way you can perform well with such lousy poetry.
Sex scene(s): both scenes awkward and terrible (and I really enjoyed Crash)
Visual FX: pretty good actually
Ending: what ending?
I'm not sure if I'm more amused or more disappointed by the reaction by
so many reviewers here of this film. No, it's not your Hollywood
production, it contains few digital effects, no action, not even your
standard "Cronenberg gore". This is a novel, and is presented in a way
that's similar to the novel; with characters and dialog. As these
elements are revealed, and the story unfolds as it does, I was left
with a very interesting and satisfying experience.
I wonder if many of the folks giving this a poor review, saying it's boring or confusing, are simply unprepared for what they're renting, and they blame the movie for not meeting expectations. This happened to me. I started the movie while tired and impatient for distraction. After 15 minutes, I shut the film off and waited a couple of days for the right mood to kick in (awake, curious, searching for intellectual stimulation) before starting "Cosmopolis" from the beginning. Some movies are an escape from the work, and/or from thinking. This is not one of them.
I don't like to give spoilers in my reviews, so I will only say to anyone reading, rent this if you're in the mood for a unique movie that gives you cause to reflect and think. And be patient- despite what some have said, I think the ending is exactly right.
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