still wear turtlenecks in the future. In fact, the retro-1960s fashion and décor
are rather reassuring. The passengers on this exploratory vessel will take
their comforts where they may. They do not know where they have come from or
where they are going, but at least the canteen is fully stocked in Philippe
Fernandez’s boldly philosophical Cosmodrama
screens today during the 2015 Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal.
travelers aboard this generational spaceship have just been awakened from their
cryogenic slumber to find they are all suffering from amnesia. They have no
idea what they are supposed to be doing, but more or less find their assigned
roles through instinct. By far, the Astronomer is the most productive among
them. He quickly traces their trajectory and analyzes their apparent
destination. To find out where exactly they are headed, he will determine where
they have come from, but in this case, he means the point at which life in our
universe originated eons ago.
the Astronomer announces his findings, the Reporter sends them back through
space in his dispatches. Everyone seems to acknowledge his research into the
very nature of existence should be the focus of their mission, even though the Psysiologist
and the Semiologist have had great success teaching a primate to communicate
with flashcards. Except for the increasingly erratic Psychologist, everyone
settles into their routines fairly smoothly, even when forced to cohabitate
with doppelgangers created by time-shifts.
might take years for Cosmodrama to
reach the audience it deserves, but eventually it should be hailed as a
classic. Fernandez takes all the familiar science fiction tropes and turns them
into a unabashedly cerebral philosophical inquiry. Think of it as the Star Trek episode Umberto Eco and Carl
Sagan never collaborated on. It looks just as trippy-groovy as the mildly disappointing
Space Station ’76, but it pitches its
material at an infinitely higher level. You really need to see it a few times
to absorb all the conjecture, but even if it is all gobbledygook, it sounds
there are also very strange psychological dramas percolating below the surface.
Despite the lack of conventional genre conflicts, there are real stakes
involved, as well as some seriously chewy dialogue. Jackie Berroyer is terrific
as the Astronomer (and his double), completely selling some heady speculation.
Bernard Blancan also makes a compelling everyman as the Reporter, while Sascha
Ley further piles on the braininess as the Biologist. If anyone overplays their
hand, it is Emmanuel Moynot doing the Full Monty as the Psychologist.
is genuinely virtuoso filmmaking in the fullest sense. Eventually, Cosmodrama will be a Criterion
Collection title and a mainstay on critics’ lists. It is like all the really
inspired scientific bits from the last twenty years of SF film and television seamlessly
assembled into a mastercut. Very highly recommended, Cosmodrama is a must-see film when it screens tonight (8/3) and
tomorrow (8/4), as part of this year’s Fantasia.
Labels: Fantasia '15, French Cinema, Sci-Fi films