There are some movies that you simply have to see. There are some movies that you can miss just because your friends gave them a bad review. And there is a third category: You have to see them in order to establish your own opinion. The big winner of the recent Moscow Film Festival is a movie directed by Aleksei Uchitel called "Kosmos kak predchustviye" (Dreaming of Space) and definitely belongs in the last category.
"Kosmos" is the story of a cook named Konyok (Yevgeny Mironov) with an evening boxing habit. Konyok finds his role model in brutal boxing rival Gherman (Yevgeny Tzyganov) who constantly lies, gets into fights, studies English and listens to foreign radio stations. All of these activities would have been classified as treasonous in 1957, when the movie takes place.
Although to me it was rather unclear why a cook/boxer not only would follow his hero but even attempt to copy him, I have to admit that watching the action unfold in the drab surroundings of a tiny Soviet town in the middle of nowhere was still pretty entertaining. Well scripted jokes and strong chemistry betweenthe characters – especially Konyok, his girlfriend and Gherman – add life and spice to the otherwise colorless backdrop of Uchitel.
Mironov, who has participated in questionable film projects to the detriment of his reputation, in a blink of an eye redeems his good standing. Sadly though, even good overall acting and strong attention to curious Soviet-era details does not compensate for some big directing mistakes. The closer the movie gets to the end, the more it turns into a pathetic patriotic bent, with a smiling Yuri Gagarin underlining a happy ending for a movie which does not need one.