SexyBeast indeed. Love the name of this column and very apt if I do say so myself. Richard Porton’s intro into his article says it all:
“Michael Haneke’s Amour may have won the Palme d’Or, but David Cronenberg’s competition entry provided plenty of intrigue: an appearance by seldom seen author Don DeLillo, a reinvented star in Robert Pattinson—and a surprisingly topical subject. [My emphasis]
This is not the only sequence where Cronenberg employs large patches of DeLillo’s dialogue. Cosmopolis’s mordantly witty exchanges, which Cronenberg compares to playwright Harold Pinter’s repartee, cascade trippingly off the tongues of Pattinson, Hampshire, Sarah Gadon, Juliette Binoche, and Paul Giamatti. Some critics have complained that this dialogue-heavy film is static, theatrical, and uncinematic. But Cronenberg, who can certainly lay on the visual pyrotechnics when he feels the urge to do so, rightly believes that a restrained style is not equivalent to an absence of style and that, in any case, trenchant words can often have a more lasting impact. Celebrated early in his career for inventive low-budget horror films incorporating garish special effects, he has now pared his cinematic modus operandi down to the bone.
Pattinson seems to relish the opportunity to shed his image as a matinee idol and portray a predatory capitalist. Although far from the only young actor who could be envisioned as Eric, he is certainly effective in a less than sympathetic role. Gadon, who also appeared as Carl Jung’s wife in A Dangerous Method, Cronenberg’s last feature, imbues Packer’s wife, Elise Shifrin, with a combination of subtle intelligence and cool beauty. Giamatti, however, delivers the film’s most dynamic performance as Benno Levin, an enraged man whose anguished tirades sum up the apocalyptic mood of a society experiencing an ongoing crisis.
Cronenberg was asked at the press conference if there was an antidote to the despair that appears to suffuse this surprisingly topical competition entry. He replied that the fact the film got made at all is grounds for optimism. In a film industry dominated by blockbuster franchises, such as the one Robert Pattinson dominates, it’s encouraging that a relentlessly downbeat if intermittently witty movie such as Cosmopolis can see the light of day.”
Very interesting read, click on SexyBeast above to read the full review.
Thanks Roberta for sending me the link to that.
And Ryan Lattanzio from Thompson on Hollywood
“Lately Canadian director David Cronenberg is tending toward talkier films, heavy on dialogue and discourse. “Cosmopolis,” like “A Dangerous Method” (2011), imagines pseudo-intellectual characters prattling on about The Human Condition. But unlike “Method,” which reduced its characters to pint-sized archetypes of psychoanalysis, “Cosmopolis” digs deep. The film is arranged episodically, as characters appear briefly and are unlikely to show again—although Giamatti’s character, Eric’s madcap employee, circulates with menace along the film’s fringes.
Cronenberg, long pegged for his artful dwellings on the human body and its (per)mutations, has written his first screenplay since “eXistenZ” (1999). While the material is based on literary titan Don DeLillo’s 2003 novel of the same name, Cronenberg’s penmanship is clear, as lines bounce off one another like electrically-charged molecules, with pregnant pauses that situate the banter in a realm outside reality. The film bristles and crackles with ideas and insight, however half-baked or preposterous, about the world at large.
This talkfest’s fizzy prose matches the cold anatomy of the mise-en-scene. Heady verbal jousting and dramaturgy aside, “Cosmopolis,” like any Cronenberg film, is a visual experience. Outside the confines of Eric’s uber-glam limousine is a world of unfeeling chaos, where danger looms in close proximity. Though we never quite understand what it is exactly that Eric does, the insistent reminder that everyone is out to get him assures us that he is Important, with little to do.
While Cronenberg has elicited nuanced, naturalistic performances from the likes of Viggo Mortensen, Maria Bello and Naomi Watts (“A History of Violence,” “Eastern Promises”), he often teases out intentionally stilted performances from his leads (“Crash,” 1996). As Eric, the brooding Pattinson eroticizes every move, glance and revolver-spin. Travis Bickle is gliding beneath his dead stare. Although the profligate Eric professes ideas and obsessions, he is ultimately a wannabe nihilist. He asks one of his many girlfriends (Patricia McKenzie) to tase him, because he’s ready for something new, because he wants to feel something besides empty sex and asymptotic human connection. A person who has everything, in effect, has nothing. That doesn’t make Eric a deep person but, in the film’s final stretches as he confronts his fate, something is roiling beneath that dark, handsome shell.
However much “Cosmopolis” taps into the economic zeitgeist, the film is removed from reality; Cronenberg has dreamed up another world where logic and ideology are nil. With his latest effort, the auteur surveys all of his fetishes and packs them into one slick, streamlined movie. But like good sci-fi, every element rings prescient, drawing upon our fears and anxieties as a species and a civilization. Zizek said that the cinema doesn’t show us what to desire, but tells us how we desire. Cronenberg knows that a specter haunts “Cosmopolis”: our own imagination.”
Click on link to read full review.
See now both those reviews would make me want to go and see the film, if I hadn’t planned on doing that before.