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Cosi

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R
1996

The 1996 Australian comedy-drama film Cosi is a heartwarming and quirky story about love, friendship, and the transformative power of the performing arts. Directed by Mark Joffe and written by Louis Nowra, the movie is set in 1971 and follows the journey of a young university graduate named Lewis (Ben Mendelsohn) who takes on a theater project at a mental institution in Melbourne as a way to avoid the Vietnam War draft.

The film begins with the anxious and indecisive Lewis reluctantly accepting a job as a director at the mental hospital for a one-off performance of the Mozart opera Cosi Fan Tutte. He soon finds himself thrown into a world of eccentric and eclectic characters, including a charismatic and manic depressive pianist named Roy (Barry Otto), a shy and anxious actor with a stutter named Henry (Paul Chubb), a seductive and delusional pyromaniac named Cherry (Toni Collette), and many others who are grappling with their own personal demons.

As Lewis struggles to get the cast of patients to rehearse and perform the complex opera, he learns valuable lessons about the power of empathy, acceptance, and creativity. He forms deep and meaningful connections with his cast members, who teach him to see beyond their diagnoses and to appreciate their unique talents and perspectives. He also confronts his own fears and prejudices, especially when it comes to his relationship with his girlfriend Lucy (Rachel Griffiths), who is a political activist and a vocal opponent of the Vietnam War.

Throughout the film, the audience is treated to a delightful and touching blend of music, humor, and drama, as the patients pour their hearts and souls into their roles in the opera. The scenes of the rehearsals and the performances are beautifully shot, and the use of music and sound is particularly effective in evoking the emotional resonance of the story.

One of the most striking aspects of Cosi is the way it explores the themes of madness and creativity. The film suggests that there is a thin line between sanity and insanity, and that perhaps the most interesting and innovative ideas come from those who are considered to be outside of the norm. The patients in the film are portrayed as complex and nuanced individuals who have much to offer, despite their mental health challenges. The film's title, which is the Italian word for "thus" or "so", takes on a deeper meaning as the characters strive to find their own sense of purpose and meaning in life.

The performances in Cosi are all excellent, with Mendelsohn bringing a quiet but powerful presence to the role of Lewis, and Otto stealing the scenes with his manic energy and eccentricity. Collette, who went on to become a big Hollywood star, is particularly impressive as Cherry, bringing a sensuality and vulnerability to the character that is both captivating and heartbreaking.

Overall, Cosi is a film that manages to be both entertaining and thought-provoking. It treats its subject matter with sensitivity and respect, while also providing moments of joy and laughter. It is a story about the power of art to heal and transform, and about the importance of empathy and acceptance in our relationships with others. It is a film that will leave you feeling uplifted and inspired, with a renewed appreciation for the beauty and complexity of the human experience.

Cosi is a Comedy, Drama movie released in 1996. It has a runtime of 100 min.. Critics and viewers have rated it moderate reviews, with an IMDb score of 6.6..

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6.6/10
Director
Mark Joffe
Stars
Ben Mendelsohn, Barry Otto, Toni Collette, Rachel Griffiths, Aden Young, Colin Friels, Jacki Weaver, David Wenham
Also starring Barry Otto
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