Cesc Gay’s V.O.S is in competition at TIFF. It’s a Romantic Comedy about four friends, one of which is a screenwriter who is writing the story as it unfolds.
Two of the friends decide to have a baby together despite not being a couple. The four begin spending a lot of time together, and unbeknownst to the other two, they start to fall in love.
Like Fiction before it, Cesc Gay’s new film deals with midlife angst and the weight of paring up with “the one” before it’s too late. While Fiction is kind of slow, sad and contemplative, V.O.S. is the exact opposite—fast-paced and funny.
The characters can be in a hospital maternity ward one minute or under fake rain surrounded by a crew the next. The screenwriter character even dictates the action to his friends in one scene to have a desired outcome in the next scene of the script, which incidentally he’s taking his merry time finishing. Sounds experimental? It is.
But the trickiness of this point of departure gets greatly simplified as we settle into the story. He has fun with the tricks of cinema.The main one being, as Gay puts it, the principle “that movies are all one big lie.” In brooding hands, the device would have been used to subvert at best, but instead he uses the lie in very humorous and sometimes very innovative ways.
Telling the story becomes the device that drives the plot. And how he uses the crew to remind us we are watching the process of building a movie really takes off and gets laughs. Every reminder of the lie gets more playful every time. And the film is at its most original here.
It’s based on a top grossing Spanish play, by Carol Lopez, that starred the same actors as the film. “It’s clear that after playing their parts for 300 nights the material was second nature so we didn’t need to rehearse,” Gay says. And the performances are flawless.
V.O.S. is well-built cinema. The film is 100 % self-conscious. And the story is chalk full of American film and TV references. From Kill Bill to Friends to Woody Allen, whose looming influence the screenwriter character dejectedly shrugs off. It’s 86 minutes of bliss.
Let’s hope it doesn’t stay under the radar. Or at the very least, expect an American remake somewhere down the road.