Let's focus on Robert Pattinson's movie career for a change. Because, really, that's what the guy does for a living right? (That is, when he's gamely trying to pontificate on the fishbowl nature of celebrity while avoiding the ginormous elephant in the room.)
Which brings us to Cosmopolis. The David Cronenberg–helmed mind trip, adapted from the acclaimed novel by Don DeLillo, offers Pattinson a welcome reprieve from the Twilight juggernaut (and some potentially awkward promo appearances with Kristen Stewart) while allowing him to explore edgier, left-of-center material.
In it, he plays a Wall Street wiz who takes a limo ride through Manhattan to get a haircut, but ends up on a surreal, high-minded journey charting the topography of capitalism and other Big Ideas.
Does it work?
Not quite. More reviews are coming in (the film premiered at Cannes in May) and critics are less than impressed, noting that the flick's lofty ambitions and timely hook (down with the one percent!) fall short of its pretentious sheen and overblown execution.
• "An exceedingly self-conscious adaptation of the brooding indictment of the 1% found in Don DeLillo's novel," writes Betsy Sharkey of the Los Angeles Times, who labels it "a disappointment." She notes that "the film never achieves the incisive power of his best work, 'A History of Violence'" and that "even an A-list ensemble that includes Juliette Binoche, Samantha Morton and Paul Giamatti can't save it."
• "A misfire," scoffs Alynda Wheat of People. She notes that while "Pattinson gamely tries to find his way," the audience is subjected to "ridiculous babble about art, time and commerce that's so artificial it takes two scenes to realize that one of the minions is Packer's wife." By the time the film reaches its climax, "it's just so good to get out of the bleepin' car."
• "The film comes off as an elaborately didactic and overheated lecture," offers Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly. "Pale and predatory, Pattinson delivers his frigid pensées with rhythmic confidence, but he's not playing a character, he's playing an abstraction: the evil genius of finance who flies too close to the sun...[Cronenberg] has snuffed out any shred of interior life in him."
• "Cosmopolis is like the theater of the absurd—the kind that isn't funny," rants Kyle Smith of the New York Post. "It's like atonal music, which the untrained ear might mistake for noise. It's like action painting, a splattery mess. David Cronenberg meets Don DeLillo at last, and it's as if all the angels of heaven have come together. And said nothing."
• Peter Travers of Rolling Stone, on the other hand, diverges from the pack with a rave review of the flick. "This mesmerizing mind-bender ought to prove two things: (1) Robert Pattinson really can act; (2) Director David Cronenberg never runs from a challenge...Cosmopolis, demanding as it is daring, is no easy ride. I mean that as high praise."
• "A movie that's opaque and transparent, as well as discomfortingly real, suggestively allegorical and perversely comic," offers Manohla Dargis of The New York Times. "Pattinson can be a surprisingly animated presence...and he may be capable of greater nuance and depth than is usually asked of him."
• "I recommend Cosmopolis in the spirit that I might recommend Scandinavian-style salted licorice," offers Dana Stevens of Slate. "It won't be to everyone's taste, to put it mildly—even some Cronenberg devotees may be turned off by this movie's icy, cerebral quality, its aggressive oddness. But at least it doesn't taste like anything else out there."
• "The film is willfully confounding, indulgent, claustrophobic and obfuscating, more concerned with attitude than clarity of focus," writes Claudia Puig of USA Today. "It's all vapid snark, didactic sermonizing and bewildering shock tactics."