San Sebastian International Film Festival

SAN SEBASTIAN, Spain -- Young Spanish director Diego Fandos' first feature outing is a daring affair, which delves into themes of loneliness, family tragedy and how we are linked by a common humanity. But at times the 36-year-old director gets tangled-up in meditating about these subjects and forgets films need plots and dramatic coherency. It is a shame as, otherwise, he skilfully intertwines the varying ideas running through the film."Cosmos" should do well in the Latin American markets, appealing with its touches of Gabriel Garcia-Marquez-inspired magical realism, but may struggle to sell beyond this.

The film tells two parallel stories. One is about businessman Inaki (Ramon Barea), who is released after being kidnapped by the Basque terrorists ETA for nine months, then is inspired to help a Russian astronaut who is marooned in space. The other is about Euriane (Oihana Maritorena), a lonely young woman who hankers after an elusive Russian and rings strangers in Los Angeles in the middle of the night just to speak to someone.

Their stories, shot in San Sebastian, are loosely joined by themes of solitude and family secrets. Kidnap victim Inaki feels an affinity with the marooned Russian astronaut because he understand loneliness but also it emerges, has a family link with Russia and possibly a lost brother there since his mother escaped to the Soviet Union during the Spanish Civil War. Euriane is abandoned by her parents, seeks solace in a cheating Russian but is looked after by a strange guardian angel.

Where the film lets itself down is the way the plot darts around too much. One minute Euriane meets her guardian angel on a beach, the next he appears to drown himself or disappear. And who is her French friend in a hospital bed? Not for those who don't care for complicated storylines.

With a main cast of just four, the acting needs to be strong in a film with a confusing plot. It is. The relatively inexperienced Maritorena gives a strong lead performance, showing the vulnerability of a woman who seems scared by a mystery stranger who is supposedly following her, then appears to understand how, on a deeper level, she may have a guardian angel to look after her.

Fandos' central idea is this: Despite family rankles or struggles with loneliness, we can get over life's problems if we realize there is an affinity between humans. It is a fine idea, but it would have made a better film with a sharper script and plotline to give it more dynamism. Nevertheless, judging by "Cosmos" Fandos is one Spanish director to watch.

Writer/director: Diego Fandos
Director of photography: Javier Agirre
Music: Javi Pez
Editor: Jualia Juaniz
Euriane: Oihana Maritorena
Javier: Xabier Elorriaga
Inaki: Ramon Barea
Carmen: Klara Badiola
Running time -- 99 minutes
No MPA rating
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