CINEMA: Twilight Of The Gods


TIME OUT CHICAGO: From David Cronenberg, the director of Naked Lunch and Crash, comes something truly perverse: a vision of capitalism’s decline, as seen through the blinkered eyes—and tinted car windows—of a billionaire too coolly detached to mourn even the collapse of his own empire. True to its source, a spookily prophetic 2003 best-seller from Don DeLillo, Cosmopolis is rich with topicality: Protesters hoist rodent dolls, Occupy-style, as power players cause seismic ripples in the economic landscape. Yet that description makes the film sound like a leaden lecture about How We Live, when it’s closer in spirit, and texture, to a fever dream like Cronenberg’s own Videodrome. Who better than dead-eyed pinup boy Robert Pattinson to play a young Wall Street bloodsucker? MORE

ROGER EBERT: The movie stars Robert Pattinson, as Eric Packer, a loathsome billionaire monster, a young master of Wall Street who seems to perceive no connection between his wealth and its results in the world. He has sex several times in the film and reveals less genuine passion than during a prostate examination. During the course of a day, his fortune seems to be melting away, hemorrhaging millions a minute, but c’est la vie. He has recently married a rich woman who assures him she can help him, and he regards her with the detachment of an incurious insect. The movie is based on a novel by Don DeLillo, which I read and rather admired. It’s said to be loosely inspired by James Joyce’s Ulysses. Very loosely. Yes, it involves the hero’s journey across a city during a single day, and yes, it hears several vernaculars. But the film and the novel both lack any trace of Joyce’s humor and rich humanity. Here is a stark, forbidding portrait of the damned in a hell of their making. As the film opens, Packer stands on the sidewalk in front of what is possibly his office tower and states without emotion, “We need a haircut.” As Pattinson plays Packer, he states everything without emotion. All of the criticisms you may have heard or held about Pattinson’s performances as the vampire Edward in the “Twilight” films only serve to underline that he is perfectly cast as Packer. He enters his improbably long white stretch limousine, lengthy enough for a Mafia wedding, and sets off across Manhattan to his usual barbershop. It is not a good day for this journey. The city is experiencing gridlock cubed, because of a presidential motorcade, a rap star’s funeral and anarchist riots. Packer doesn’t care, and he, and we, will spend from morning to night mostly inside the limousine.MORE

Cronenberg has retained much of DeLillo’s dialogue, which is, by turns, clipped and expansive and idea-studded—a kind of postmodernist exposition of how money functions in cyberspace. And he has come up with an equivalent to DeLillo’s curt and cool equipoise—a style of filmmaking that is classically measured and calm, without an extra shot or cut. The interior of the car is designed in shades of black and dark gray, with chrome trim and blue, glowing screens. Despite the constrictions, Cronenberg keeps the space handsome and active. For long stretches, “Cosmopolis” is dreamy and funny, in an off-centered way. At one point, the limo pulls alongside a taxi, and Eric steps into the cab and sits next to a pretty young woman (Sarah Gadon), who turns out to be his wife of twenty-two days. They have a polite conversation; they agree to meet for sex. But as the violence outside grows more frantic, and the money disappears, the tone of the movie darkens. MORE