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Australia 1996
Directed by
Mark Joffe
100 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2 stars


Adapted by Louis Nowra from his own play of the same name Cosi is a showcase of Australian acting talent including Toni Collette, Rachel Griffiths, Colin Friels, Jacki Weaver, Pamela Rabe, Paul Chubb and David Wenham (with brief appearances by Paul Mercurio and Greta Scacchi as mental patients) but it is not enough to make it more than a concatenation of caricatures in a predictable story of plucky determination and treacly redemption.

Mark Joffe's direction is equally prosaic as he dutifully plods through the narrative (there's one good sequence with a pig, although this suggests a quotation from Babe which was still showing theatrically when this film was released). Ben Mendelsohn is miscast in the central role, being far too limited an actor to carry off the dramatic transformation required and whilst some of the supporting cast are far stronger (particularly Wenham, Friels and Collette), equally too many (Otto, Chubb, Weaver) are saddled with stereotypical characters (Weaver rises well to occasion here).

Nowra's under-developed script draws parallel between Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutte and the relationships of his story's characters but it's done in a perfunctory way. Although one can see the potential in this idea and imagine what the film would have been had it been made by a European team, this is an opportunity squandered and as it stands is more like a provincial repertory production.

The film won an AFI Award for Best Adapted Screenplay and, incredible as it may seem, a Best Actor in a Supporting Role nomination at same for Barry Otto.




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