Set in Sydney, Australia, Lewis (Ben Mendelsohn) is a newbie to directing theatre. He applies for a job at an institution for the mentally ill, where he will oversee a theatre project for a small group of patients. Luckily, Lewis gets the job, but he soon discovers the role will be more complex than he could ever imagine.
As Lewis begins to get the show underway, he is overrun by the many institute patients he will be working with, especially Roy (Barry Otto), who demands that Lewis bring the famous opera Cosi Fan Tutte by Mozart to life. Considering the play is entirely in Italian and an opera, Lewis is under pressure even more as his cast doesn’t speak a word of Italian, nor can many of them sing or hold a tune. On the flip side, the more Lewis learns and studies about Cosi Fan Tutte, the more he begins to question many aspects of trust and love, particularly when it comes to his current partner Lucy (Rachel Griffiths).
Cosi carries plenty of moments of outrageous comedy, but it’s got plenty of heartfelt moments too, which I found quite surprising upon my first watch. Those who love classical music will enjoy the operatic aspects throughout the runtime. Stage play is a consistent topic throughout the film, plus viewers are treated with an entertaining finale as if they are watching a night of theatre on stage.
Performances here are, as the character Roy would say, marvellous. The actors who play patients are cast wonderfully and cannot be faulted. I’ve always viewed lead actor Ben Mendelsohn’s character of Lewis as a slightly weaker aspect, mainly because many characters surrounding him are extremely loud, outrageous, funny and, at times, highly dramatic. Roy is one example, as he continually pushes Lewis to his limits with his bossy nature and passion for Cosi Fan Tutte. Another is Doug, played brilliantly by David Wenham, who not only has an obsession with fire and burning everything around him but also carries a crude and foul mouth that stumps Lewis on multiple occasions.
The pacing, for the most part, is excellent. The story is delightful and fun when the film focuses on Lewis attempting to create a play. However, when Lewis starts having suspicions about his current partner and even his close friend Nick (Aden Young), the story becomes slightly frustrating. Despite this, the film still slowly and cleverly brings the story of Cosi into Lewis’s personal life. Cosi takes its audience on a journey through the many characters as they deal with different challenges and struggles. As the credits roll, no matter how often I watch this film, I’m always left high with excitement, feeling content and wanting to see more from the lovable characters (including the naughty ones). The musical score is also beautiful and gentle, successfully delivering soft, heartfelt tones of emotion and, again, fun.
Overall, this Australian film has always been close to my heart. I admire so many aspects of it. It’s a witty and outrageous comedy, with stunning performances by the many cast members, delivering heartfelt tones and multiple stories. Every time I watch this film, I laugh one minute, am completely shocked, and am left with a heavy heart the next. In the end, Cosi leaves its audiences on a feel-good high and stands firmly as being different and bold; there’s nothing quite like it. As the character Roy would say, it’s marvellous.