As a bonafide and seasoned nerd, I can attest that one of the many high points of any nerd or geek’s life is our yearly pilgrimages to Nerd Mecca, also known as comic conventions. To assemble with many others like ourselves, share stories of nerdy proportions, and gush over the upcoming appearances to be held at the event, moments like this create a vibe where we can be our truest selves. Cosplay is one of our forms of worship to our fandoms, embodying the roles we strive to live out each day. Not too long ago, due to the lack of human decency and control among some, our world chose to become one voice to raise the mantra that would become a staple for every event to come: “Cosplay does not mean consent.”
Laurence Olivier Award and 3-time Tony Award-winner Robin de Levita has found a way to raise this voice again in his deeply provocative yet powerful directorial debut film, Lost Cos. The film follows Eni (Evgeniya Radilova) who is haunted by her tortured childhood and the violent loss of the great love of her life. She finds an escape in Lost Cos, a mysterious underground club where cosplay and burlesque intertwine, and heroes and villains blur the line between fantasy and reality. But when a cosplayer dressed as “Merman” shows up dead on a New Jersey beach and a mysterious stalker gets up in her DMs, Eni must confront the traumas that have shaped her life and transform herself into an altogether more formidable force.
Lost Cos houses many artistic approaches by the Director, giving the film every opportunity to utilize pops of color and vignettes of comic book panels to add to the ambiance of heroism and power. While the film itself is a bit rough and clunky on the technical side, it holds a sense of charm, creating a wry clump of world-building that slowly draws you in. This side of New York carries an air of mystery through Levita’s eye that seems so personal yet relatable, that you may find a slice of it in your home city.
The journey our main protagonist finds herself on is not only one of becoming a hero but one of self-discovery and healing. On the surface, what showcases as the potential for an action film franchise brutally pours out the ugly truth of the world we still live in: consent is given, not taken. Our “hero” faces the past as someone who was not asked, and sadly much was taken. Through all this, she finds not only a means to fight the status quo, but to be a hero for those who are still being haunted by this daily truth.
Many of the performers are outstanding in their roles, from lead actress Evgeniya Radilova and Sammy Rubin to amazing real-world cosplayers and performers such as Annette Rodriguez, Murray Hill, DK Zero, Perle Noire, and many others! The production team for this film took care to not only create real instances of true cosplay and burlesque, but also had many professionals in those fields on set and on camera. In my opinion, this only added to the necessity of the message coming across loud and clear regarding consent and why it is so vital to our communities.
All in all, is the film perfect? No, but -much like this film- what cosplay outfit ever truly is? What stitch or seam or headpiece or belt or piece of EVA foam ever seems perfect? But it isn’t in the perfections that we find unity, but rather the imperfections and our ability to find the beauty in them that draw us closer together. The message Lost Cos holds is not an old one, but rather an underspoken one. However now, with Robin de Levita’s help, it is helping to grow our voices a little louder, and no one needs permission to be a part of that.
Lost Cos is headed to US theatres from December 8th, 2023.
Rating: 3.5/5 Atoms