Friday, 2 September 2016

REVIEW - COSMOS (ANDRZEJ ZULAWSKI)


The maddening majesty of Andrzej Zulawski's Cosmos only comes into view some way into its runtime. It's monotonous, relentless, wholly disorientating, and runs entirely contrary to expectations - at first, its obscurity and oddity only confound, establishing a bewildering sensation of having been cast adrift with no bearings whatsoever; later, upon having acclimatized to Zulawski's typically bizarro stylings, the film acquires a certain perverse brilliance. You may admire Zulawski for his bravura, his fecklessness, the sheer brazen originality of his conceit. Adapting Witold Gombrowicz, he tackles not only the author's intellectual abstruseness but his own admission of such, indeed compounding its impact by condensing, not reducing. The product is a turbo-charged cacophony of seemingly random ideas, yet tied to either the characters' appreciation of their individual situations or the viewer's appreciation of those characters' indefinable states of mind. Cosmos is a furious hodgepodge of styles and concepts, both artistic and theoretical, somehow harmonious in their common dissonance; the degree to which they conflict with one another is so absolute as to create a new kind of tone altogether. And indeed, that takes some time to get used to. Its madness is no doubt the expression of great minds and great artists alike, but it's often an uneasy watch. Cosmos can induce as much amusement and admiration as plain old boredom and frustration, particularly in an opening act that seems devoted only to travelling in endless circles, ornamented by visual ugliness and sonic strangeness. It aggressively courts the label of 'difficult to love,' to the extent that you might just love it for that very fact. But it remains an essential quality of this film, and thus its most essential failing.