wed 15/07/2020

DVD/Blu-ray: Cosmos | reviews, news & interviews

DVD/Blu-ray: Cosmos

DVD/Blu-ray: Cosmos

Absurdist, erotic farce in Polish master's last

Silent scream: Lena (Victoria Guerra) expresses herself

This is farce played at a bizarre pitch, hysterical and absurd. Its Polish director, Andrzej Zulawski, remains most notorious for Possession, the 1981 horror film about marital immolation in which Isabelle Adjani erupts with a juddering, liquefying, demonic miscarriage in a Paris subway, earning her Best Actress at Cannes and the film a UK ban as a Video Nasty. Zulawski’s final film is more gently reflective at heart, but still uncompromisingly unique.

Dissolute law student Witold (Jonathan Genet) and his friskily omnisexual friend Fuchs (Johan Libereau) fetch up at a rural French boarding house where the behaviour is beyond eccentric. Between trading references to Stendahl novels and Pasoloni films, both fall for Catherette (Clementine Pons), a maid with a deformed lip. Fuchs and the beautiful young daughter of the house, Lena (Victoria Geurra), also share an intense erotic longing. Though the setting is contemporary, this feels like avant-garde farce from the 1930s, when the novel by Zulawski’s fellow Polish exile Witold Gombrowicz was written. It’s the extreme pitch of the performances and language, and the intense atmosphere of the wet, wind-lashed Portuguese locations, which makes Cosmos sing. Guerra’s silent scream in cliff-top rain suggests the deep currents beneath the absurdity.

The generous Extras have become a tribute to Zulawski, who died in February. Cosmos’s actors, from the veteran Jean Francois Balmer to the neophyte Guerra, speak of being rattled and stretched by him, and the demands of his script’s weird, high register. “It was like trying to play sheet music, when you’re not a musician,” Balmer reflects. “Nobody asks an actor to go into the sea with an umbrella...” Genet dreamily recalls, of a part drawing on epilepsy, wild beasts and a skit in The Big Bang Theory. Gombrowicz’s latter-day wife explains his work, and Zulawski himself stars in film festival press conferences, gruff yet mellifluous in many languages, sensitive but implacable, a tough artist to the end.

It’s the extreme pitch of the performances and language which makes Cosmos sing

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

Share this article

Add comment

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters