Evgeniya Radilova, Zoë Vnak, Samantha Rubin, Cameron Rea, Mark McCullough Thomas, Ross DeGraw
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY
Robin de Levita
Bulgarian actress Evgeniya Radilova gives a winning performance in Tony Award-winner Robin de Levita's directorial debut Lost Cos, a unique and engaging film that picked up the Audience Award at the Chelsea Film Festival along with a Special Jury Prize for Best Actress for Radilova's complex performance that vacillates between moments of complete and utter heartbreak to innocence to an almost jarring anger. Radilova plays Eni, a troubled dental assistant by day whose boss's questionable choices are increasingly following him at close proximity and a cosplayer by night channeling equal parts vengeance and rage at the mysterious Lost Cos, a club weaving together a tapestry of cosplay, burlesque, and more. When a cosplayer dressed as comic character Merman turns up dead at the same time that she has a mysterious stalker showing up in her DMs, Eni is forced to confront her traumatic past in an effort to become the formidable force she is meant to be.
It's fair to say that Lost Cos is tonally chaotic, though it's an intentional sort of chaos that actually grounds the film and breathes life into its characters. This complexity seems to fuel the gifted Radilova and it's abundantly clear that de Levita refuses to allow audiences to pigeonhole the film that can leave you laughing one minute and more than a little bit horrified the next. Thanks to a strong ensemble, Lost Cos is an immensely engaging film even if at times it seems like the narrative threads don't quite gel as completely as one might hope.
Remarkable memory sequences are brought vividly to life through the emotionally raw performance of Zoë Vnak as Eni's dead lover Lia. As a couple of detectives, Mark McCullough Thomas and Ross DeGraw by adding both gravity and welcome humor.
Just to add to the film's complexity, Lost Cos also adds animation to its mix and while that's a huge risk it works in abundance. Kudos to animator Adriano Moraes and his team for some mighty fine work here along with that of D.P. Michael Tosner and, of course, costumer Patrick Saint Jean among others.
I'm not sure I envy the team having to market Lost Cos, a unique action thriller and rather unlike most films you're going to see this year. While Lost Cos isn't the kind of film you're likely to see at a multiplex anytime soon, it's ideally suited to indie, experimental, and LGBTQ film fests and deserves to land with a boutique distributor that can give it the attention it deserves.
With her performance here, Radilova definitely becomes a face to watch for and here's hoping Hollywood comes knocking because this is a performance that could have gone wrong in a myriad of ways but never does.
Lost Cos may not click for those who need all their loose ends tied up neatly by film's end, but for those who can appreciate inspired storytelling and a willingness to lean into experimental cinematics there's much to love about this entertaining indie gem.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic