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Cosi Movie Review

otto paul stage louis

Cosi received a single press screening in San Francisco sometime in 1997, then the theatrical engagement was canceled and I heard no more about it until I saw it on a video shelf. It created quite a splash in Australia in the spring of 1996, so its last-minute yanking is something of a mystery. P.C. jitters, maybe? Who knows? It's about the determination of the residents of a mental hospital to stage Mozart's opera Cosi Fan Tutte, no matter WHAT obstacles get in their way. Lewis (Ben Mendelsohn) is the drifter/therapist who helps them turn their dream into a reality. The patients do a terrific job and the cast, including actors who appeared in Louis Nowra's original stage production, is a delight. Barry Otto, a scene stealer as Doug Hastings in 1992's Strictly Ballroom, is wonderful here as Roy, who insists that Lewis get the ball rolling despite the minor detail that no one knows a single word of Italian. An in-joke here is that the graceful Paul Mercurio (who co-starred as Scott Hastings with Otto) plays a clumsy auditioner who fails to receive a callback! (Ditto Greta Scacchi!) Toni (Muriel's Wedding) Colette is charming as Julie, whose big number in the show occurs when she sings “Stand by Me” during a production glitch. When theatrical folks talk about their fellow cast members being like “family,” in the best sense of that word, they must mean something like the magic that binds the ragtag Cosi company together. This one's a winner! AKA: Caught in the Act.

1995 (R) 100m/C AU Ben Mendelsohn, Barry Otto, Aden Young, Toni Collette, Rachel Griffiths, Colin Friels, Paul Chubb, Pamela Rabe, Jacki Weaver, David Wenham, Colin Hay, Tony Llewellyn-Jones, Kerry Walker; Cameos: Greta Scacchi, Paul Mercurio; D: Mark Joffe; W: Louis Nowra; C: Ellery Ryan; M: Stephen Endelman. Australian Film Institute ‘96: Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress (Collette); Nominations: Australian Film Institute ‘96: Best Supporting Actor (Otto). VHS, LV, Closed Caption

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