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Robert Pattinson
Samantha Morton
Jay Baruchel
Paul Giamatti
Kevin Durand
sarah gadon.
David Cronenberg.
David Cronenberg.
Running Time
108 minutes

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Driving Mr. Crazy

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Comfortably numb inside his state-of-the-art limousine, billionaire asset-manager Eric Packer (Pattinson) negotiates a gridlocked and increasingly volatile Manhattan intent on getting a haircut he doesn’t need. It could be the last journey he ever makes.

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David Cronenberg hasn’t been this Cronenbergian in a while: so icy-calm, intellectual and bleakly funny. Not that he hasn’t been making decent films, challenging his own orthodoxy with sleek Euro-thrillers and Keira Knightley getting spanked. It’s just that Cosmopolis recalls the clinical realms of body-shock with which he made his name; only this is a creeping horror for our times where the disease is capitalism.

Don DeLillo’s novel is a good fit for cinema’s Doctor Strange, the esteemed American author observes human foibles with scientific scrutiny and elegant detachment. His book, published in 2003, was a frighteningly prescient critique of a meltdown to come: a study in extreme close-up of this master of the universe, cocooned in data, purring through the steel canyons of Manhattan, quietly engineering his own downfall.

Cronenberg’s approach corresponds to the quiet hum of this aerodynamic limo “cork-lined against street noise” gliding through a city both strange and familiar. His film is as slick as mercury, contemporary but with the aura of science-fiction, calmly summoning an existential dread. Here are the taut, super-cool urban paranoias of Davids Fincher and Lynch, Michael Mann, Christopher Nolan and Nicolas Winding Refn, but atomised by the unmistakable brainwaves of the wizard who gave us Crash and Videodrome.

Of course it serves as a refraction of our weird and perilous times, where danger isn’t tactile or even visible, but lurks ghost-like in the luminous glow of “cyber capital”. “Money,” we are informed by Samantha Morton as Packer’s Chief Of Theory, “has lost its narrative”. Much of the dialogue takes the form of such portentous and borderline incomprehensible reports on the parlous state of human endeavour. That civilisation is being run and wrecked by Packer-like automatons. Cronenberg’s trick is to maintain a perfect equilibrium between barking-mad pretension and towering relevance. The film plays partly as caustic joke at its own importance. It could just be a horror movie.

Structured as a procession of Alice-like encounters, flunkies and whizz-kids climb aboard to report on gazillion-dollar blips and tremors of microscopic analysis. Packer stops on three occasions to converse with his glacial wife (Sarah Gadon), has sex twice, learns of a “credible threat” to his life, and is targeted by Mathieu Amalric’s commando pie-flinger. But he remains utterly disconnected, a photo negative of Taxi Driver — the disenfranchised New Yorker as untouchable with “money unbeknownst” reaching critical mass.

Cronenberg at his most remote can be an acquired taste. As in Cannes, there will be those flummoxed by the lack of action, the lugubrious pace, the virulent ambiguity. What is it that Packer seeks? Escape from the ceaseless flow of information? Stimulation? Proof of life? A soul? Orgasms are had, food is consumed, violence meted out, prostates probed (in a squelchy self-homage to the more biologically minded Cronenberg) but nothing breaks through — he is the ultimate expression of the void at the top of the world. It’s also too long in the tail: the final encounter borders on the inanely surreal, a babbling weirdo too far (although it could be read as Packer confronting a perverse manifestation of himself).

Frustrations but not catastrophes, and final words must go to Robert Pattinson’s terrific performance. A mesmerising, magnetic anti-presence, the perfect redeployment of the pin-up cheekbones and blue-grey eyes of the R-Pattz myth. As the camera gazes deeper into his frozen face, we detect a concerto of tiny twitches, lurking smirks and trickles of terrifying sweat — micro-fluctuations in the sanity of a man who has everything.

A part hypnotic, part profound, part send-up meditation on our financially imploding time.

Reviewed by Ian Nathan

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Cosmopolis
Empire Star Rating

Boring, pretentious and never ending. A part well played by Pattinson cannot save an incredibly bland and monotonous film. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by danfacey711 at 17:35, 27 March 2014 | Report This Post

Neo-Surrealism: A How Not To Guide

I think David Cronenberg needs to realize that he is not a jack-of-all-genres. After the moderate misstep that was A Dangerous Method, I for one thought that DC would get back into his trademark slick/ violent dramas or action films, which is, let's be honest, where he shone best. Cosmopolis starts intriguingly enough, but as nothing is resolved for the duration of the film, the intrigue only turns to tedium as more and more characters are introduced for minute reasons and then promptly disappea... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by blaud at 13:00, 28 February 2013 | Report This Post

RE: Terrible - i know this!!

Thought this was pretty terrible, certainly the film of Cronenberg's that I've enjoyed the least. Just the first ten minutes of it tells you this is going to be a slog, all of the actors speaking their dialogue as if it was the most profound work that had ever been seen on screen and with next to no feeling in their performances while doing so, Pattinson gives a masterclass in how NOT to be a leading man, all of his lines spoken as if he's reading them off the back of a cereal packet, displa... More

Posted by Indio at 16:26, 03 February 2013 | Report This Post

Terrible - i know this!!

What a load of old waffle! Terrible film - tries to be clever but actually has no point. Why did he choose that day to chart his own downfall? If he wanted to strip himself of his life, why did he try to save his life by reasoning with the guy at the end (with towel hood). If this is art, it's that crap type of "Tracy Emin" art where they try to convince you they are high concept but make out to be simple and have no point or purpose, but in actual fact its the opposite, trying to bamb... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Daniel James Taylor at 17:22, 21 January 2013 | Report This Post


This film explored some interesting ideas and the dialogue for the most part worked. However it was so philosophical that I feel that it would have worked better as a play than a film. It deosn't help taht the film is set mainly in one area (the limousine). Pattison is pretty good in this. My favourite scenes were between him and his girlfriend. I did however get a bit bored half way through. I would recommend renting the DVD or waiting for it to come on tv. It is heavy going at time... More

Posted by princessa at 13:26, 06 January 2013 | Report This Post


Who is paying the critics to write these reviews? FOUR STARS!? Absolutely one of the worst pieces of cinema I have seen in my life. It would have been better as radio, but still would have been awful. What a bunch of philosophical hogwash this film is. Most memorable line: "Death is a Scandal". Wow, that is deep. I could ponder that for weeks... ...and then bitch-slap the writer across the face for being such a dimwitted faux bohemian. Too bad they didn't use live rats in t... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Siebert at 07:16, 05 January 2013 | Report This Post

Fantastic film, fantastic review

Got to say I agree with the review entirely, I think it's a film which is definitely aided by repeat viewings as the dialogue sort of slips into a rhythm and you absorb much more as a viewer. The context and subject matter of the film is incredibly poignant and Pattinson delivers a performance as cold as polished steel, and I definitely agree with Ian Nathan's interpretation of the final scene, he is the representation of Packer's consciousness, he's a self reflective tool on Packer's self destr... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by jordieb at 03:00, 03 January 2013 | Report This Post

RE: Cosmopolis

A film that desperately wants you to think it’s clever, funny and engaging but just comes across as pretentious, vacuous and utterly boring. A string of fancy words and cod philosophy about economy does not a good film make. Pattinson is entirely out of his league for the most part although to be fair there was one fleeting moment where I imagined him as possible Patrick Bateman from American Psycho, emotionless and completely clueless as regards the real world. Paul Giamatti is absurdly over t... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ripperman at 12:15, 23 November 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Cosmopolis

Just finished watching this on DVD. One of the most testing and dull films I've had the displeasure of enduring. Having watched 'The Tree Of Life' last week, I was fairly certain nothing could ever match that for levels of boredom. Utterly pointless, with Pattinson's performance perhaps the only redeeming feature. Much prefer Cronenberg's more accessible films (e.g. The Fly, A History Of Violence, Eastern Promises) rather than his experimental tripe like this and Crash. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by mattdavies86 at 22:17, 18 November 2012 | Report This Post

Cosmopolis - time to rat on it!

When a film opens about a quote with a rat being the new form of currency, one's interest is piqued. Is this a film set in some dystopian future? Well folks, the dystopian future is now where stockbrokers speculate and make and lose billions, but at the expense of soul and feeling. So much so that Tasering is desired and shooting onesself through the hand is desirable. The walkout rate in this was unbelievable, and this is in one of the UKs more cosmopolitan metropolisses!! It is iron... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by filmsunlimited at 19:43, 24 June 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Beguiling, frustrating... strange.

I must say, I agree with pretty much everything Kermode's got to say on the subject of this film, particularly in regards to Cronenberg's willingness to experiment. There aren't many director's this late in their careers who are wiling to make a film that dares to try something different and for that, at least, he can be applauded. ... More

Posted by Filmfan 2 at 16:06, 21 June 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Beguiling, frustrating... strange.

Just came out of this tonight (first thing I've seen in a fortnight thanks to the football) & to echo the words of others in the thread, this was probably the thing I've sat through with the most ever walkouts (comfortably eclipsing the likes of Antichrist ite my prejudice over people leaving a film early, I really don't blame them either. It's all very well for a film to talk profoundly about the ills of capitalism, the concept of greed, the idea that a man with so much wealth & power can... More

Posted by Qwerty Norris at 00:27, 21 June 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Beguiling, frustrating... strange.

L: Filmfan 2 This movie established a new record last night for people walking out of a movie I've attended at the cinema - fourteen. Two of them made it right up to the last scene and walked out - pointless, but fair play to them. dn't count but loads of people walked of the screening I was in as well, it was probably around that number. ... More

Posted by Zaphod121 at 16:13, 20 June 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Beguiling, frustrating... strange.

I usually quite enjoy Cronenberg's movies yet this one just left me cold boring would be an understatement though have to admit R-Patz did the best he could do & Morton & Giamatti were their usual quality but the others were just so one dimensional. 2/5 ... More

Posted by Wild about Wilder at 13:22, 20 June 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Beguiling, frustrating... strange.

It was crazy and I got to say more than a little distracting the amount of people that got up and left from about half an hour in, right up to the last scene with Paul Giamatti. Think I would be guessing fairly conservatively that if there were roughly 40 people at the screening, at least 18 left at various stages, most before the half way mark!! ... More

Posted by flickoftheswitch at 03:19, 20 June 2012 | Report This Post

why critics like pretentious drivle

I can only assume that film critics are threatened by pretentious drivel to the point of awarding undeserving praise so as to not look stupid. Add Cosmopolis to the list! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by darkhart at 22:59, 17 June 2012 | Report This Post

I didn't get it...

I have no objection Arty-ish films, and I have liked Cronenberg in the past but I really did not get this! I have never been in a screen where so many people walked out in the first 30 minutes - I may have done as well but it's a personal rule that if I've bothered to go in, I will watch to the end. Was it real, was it not, was he talking to himself at the end? I came out not knowing what the hell I had just watched - and I have read your review twice and I am still none the wiser - even Cron... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by chubs at 22:54, 17 June 2012 | Report This Post

I didn't get it...

I have no objection Arty-ish films, and I have liked Cronenberg in the past but I really did not get this! I have never been in a screen where so many people walked out in the first 30 minutes - I may have done as well but it's a personal rule that if I've bothered to go in, I will watch to the end. Was it real, was it not, was he talking to himself at the end? I came out not knowing what the hell I had just watched - and I have read your review twice and I am still none the wiser - even Cron... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by chubs at 22:54, 17 June 2012 | Report This Post

Tedious and aggravating beyond belief.

I'm patient when it comes to overly talky films, but in this case this film was a real test of endurance. More than 20 people walked out in my screening and I don't blame them. Afetr the first 25 mins all I heard out of everyone's mouths turned to just simply 'blah, blah, blah'. It was dull, monotonic, pretentious and emotionally dead. Cronenberg, please do better next time. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by alsybroth at 20:07, 17 June 2012 | Report This Post

I'm sure I will enjoy!

I just know I will like this as I am a die hard fan of everything Cronenberg! Looks good from the trailer and the negative reviews just make me want to see it more! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by dannyfletch at 18:15, 16 June 2012 | Report This Post

OH DEAR!!!!!!!!!!!

Nothing more than possbily the dullest and most pretentious 2 hours I have spent in the multiplex for quite a while!! What we start of with is promising enough, a billionaire buisness man in his rediculously over designed limousine cruising for a haircut through troubled Manhattan. AND THAT's the story and I mean that is IT. What we get sandwhiched between is encounters with various city geeks and employees calculating data and figures. philosophising about currency and the importance of ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Ramone87 at 17:33, 16 June 2012 | Report This Post

Beguiling, frustrating... strange.

This movie established a new record last night for people walking out of a movie I've attended at the cinema - fourteen. Two of them made it right up to the last scene and walked out - pointless, but fair play to them. I haven't read the source material so I'm unable to draw comparisons between the two. What I will say, however, is that lisbably one of the strangest and, at times, the most beguiling cinema experiences I've had for quite some time. If you're not a fan of talky movies, ... More

Posted by Filmfan 2 at 11:25, 16 June 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Ha

I agree with the review...thought it was going to be extremely tedious (and agree the last scene did drag) but although extremely talky I enjoyed listening to everything that was said, particularly between Eric and his wife. I was the only person in the cinema who seemed to laugh at the couple (you'll probably know once you've watched) scenes that were just ridiculous - in a good way of course. Apart from Crash have only seen Cronenberg's latest four but gonna check out Videodrome soon. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by snazzy_sophie at 22:46, 15 June 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Ha

I recently watched Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood, which still remains as one of the masterworks of the last decade. Although there are many interpretations you may have towards that film, one main aspect of it is about the rise and fall of an oilman which spans over two decades. In the case of Cosmopolis, the new film directed by David Cronenberg, we see the day in the life of billionaire Eric Parker (Robert Pattinson) who loses during the course of the day, falls into financial su... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by R W at 18:37, 15 June 2012 | Report This Post

RE: Ha

I've liked most of Cronenberg's films in the past but I do feel this is ultimately a failure, and a very dull one at that. Nice cast, Pattinson does a decent job, but overall it's extremely tedious and doesn't quite seem to know how best to deal with the issues in play.. Disappointing. ... More

Posted by furrybastard at 23:17, 12 June 2012 | Report This Post

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