BERLIN — Turkish filmmaker Reha Erdem may simply have too many ideas for his own good. Or perhaps it’s just a lack of discipline. “Kosmos” is nothing less than cosmic in scope, and it’s beautifully shot, and profoundly imaginative, but it’s finally just too much of a good thing.
Nevertheless, small, artsy distributors and festival programmers worldwide should give the film a serious look. Despite its repetitiveness and occasional outright weirdness, it’s got heft. Think of Lars Von Trier’s “Antichrist” on speed rather than LSD.
Kosmos is a man of unknown origins, a kind of holy fool, who suddenly appears as a tiny dot in the immense snowscape surrounding a remote Turkish village. Almost immediately upon reaching the town, he saves a young boy from drowning, and the local menfolk are so grateful that they go out of their way to make him feel at home.
But Kosmos won’t be tied down and, once the villagers’ largesse wears out, he quickly demonstrates that he would rather steal than work. He also raises some hackles when he announces that it’s really love that he’s after, especially that of the beautiful Neptun, whose brother he had saved from drowning. Her father is not amused. Another talent Kosmos has is curing the ill and the lame, and soon enough he comes to be regarded as a miracle worker by the poorest of the town.
But this is the merest outline of what actually happens in the movie. A strange missile from outer space lands amid the fields and is seen as a “sign,” but it’s unclear of what. There is a political sub-theme that concerns border issues, and whether the villagers might make more money by opening themselves to commerce with their age-old enemies. There’s a young crippled woman whom he cures by licking her back, and another woman, a teacher who’s been stranded in the village, whom he beds. Along the way, Kosmos cures a mute boy, but the village turns on him when the boy dies.
When Kosmos and Neptun flirt, their harmless lovemaking takes the form of wild bird calls that they sing out to each other at full throttle. There’s also a kind of animal theme — related to one of Kosmos’s many oracular pronouncements about humans really being animals — that regularly reappears in the form of closeups of the eyes of animals that are about to be slaughtered. And there’s a great deal of frantic running in the film. And much, much more.
It’s what the French call an embarrassment of riches, and Erdem has an unfortunate penchant for repeating rather than developing an idea. But the visual imagination on display here, and the resonant sound design that magnificently evokes winter life, push all objections aside. Take twenty minutes out of this film and it might still be strange, but great.
Venue: Berlin International Film Festival
Production Company: Atlantik Film
Cast: Sermet Yesil, Turku Turan, Hakan Altuntas
Director: Reha Erdem
Screenwriter: Reha Erdem
Producer: Omer Atay
Director of photography: Florent Herry
Production designer: Omer Atay
Sound design: Reha Erdem, Herve Guyader
Costume designer: Mehtap Tunay
Editor: Reha Erdem
Sales: Claudine Avetyan
No rating, 122 minutes