17 February 1999 | JSlack
Brillant Performances underline Dreamy message.
When it comes down to it, Così is a film about the right to dream and the tragedy of dreams being lost. The characters outside the institution, Lewis included, are a pragmatic lot. They have pragmatic views on life, pragmatic humor, and are cynically short of ideals. Nick, in particular, suggests that doing away with loyalty in a relationship is a valid concept, not because of any devotion to an ideal of 'free love' but simply because it does away with all the complications over infidelity.
The actors, however, are far less restrained in their grips on reality, (however clichéd that may sound, trust me, these characters are not) and thus are allowed to dream. It isn't so much that they are delusional, (none really are) it's simply that they don't seem to have been indoctrinated with a grim view of reality. Roy doesn't just lie about his childhood to others, he allows himself to dream that he really did have a childhood that was remarkable and marvelous. More subtly, Henry is permitted to idolize his father in a way Nick never could. And sure enough, when the two's views on life collide, there are sparks, with Henry delivering most.
Lewis, of course, must gradually progress from one to the other, but this is done in a way which is subtle and beautiful. His dream is the play itself, and he progresses from dreading his own misfortune in getting the job of making these nutcases perform a play successfully; to dreaming of making a perfect play with beautiful costumes and wonderful responses. What matters is that they dreamt of it and had the lack of sense to follow that dream.
The film has a sterling wit and proceeds nicely, following the course of the patient's dreams and the friend's pragmatism and lack of dreams. (For a good contrast showing this message, check out the overdone, amazingly clichéd and unimaginative performance by Nick, and compare it to the dream laden performance of the patients.)
In the end, the film is delightfully unrealistic in its applications. Plot devices do appear to be coming out of left field. But in a film about dreaming, surely that can be excused?