Review: We Can’t Live Without Cosmos @ Kinofilm Festival, Manchester

We Can’t Live Without Cosmos bears both the warm comfort of the Saturday morning cartoons of youth and the wonder and depth of the cosmos themselves.

Heart-warming, brilliantly funny and simultaneously crushingly sad – without ever a word spoken – it encompasses all that is good about film.

The animated short, an Academy Award nominee, is the masterful creation of Russian director Konstantin Bronzit, who was previously nominated for an Oscar in 2009 for his delightfully named short Lavatory Lovestory.

Warning: Spoiler Alert

The audience are told the story of two aspiring cosmonauts, known only as 1203 and 1204, bound by a deep companionship and working towards their shared goal of going into space.

During this time, the two do everything together and quickly rise to the top of their class before being selected for the mission, with 1203 chosen to go into space while 1204 is held in reserve.

The friendship of the pair runs so deeply and sincerely that when 1203 is chosen to live his dream over 1204, the resounding feeling from 1204 is one of genuine pleasure for his friend’s triumph.

Bronzit expresses the sentiments beautifully. In the hands of a lesser director such sentiment might easily have come across as banal and insincere.

Shortly after leaving Earth’s atmosphere, the mission goes awry and contact is temporarily lost with 1203.

The ecstasy of the successful launch quickly subsides and is replaced with a gut-wrenching hollowness when the video splutters back to life to show the cosmonauts’ prized book floating freely, partially burned, into oblivion – though, as with every aspect of the film, the tone is softened by Bronzit’s wit and timing.

1204 is inconsolable – stars fall like snow. Left with only a picture to remember his friend, he seals himself in the embryonic cocoon of his spacesuit from which no man can prize him.

The cosmonaut’s misery is only compounded by the speed at all around him move on. A new roommate arrives almost immediately who contrasts the lost 1203 in every way: electronic draughts to 1203’s chessboard.

Not a word is spoken throughout We Can’t Live Without Cosmos, yet 1204’s despair is palpable, owing to Bronzit’s brilliant writing, storytelling and the fantastic animation.

The fraternal bond of the cosmonauts is so wonderfully expressed that when the two are torn from one another the audience is party to the sadness too.

Just as 1204’s sadness reaches breaking point, he bursts from the confines of his room, leaving only a man-shaped hole in the ceiling and the shell of his spacesuit.

The last we see of 1204 is as he floats ever-upwards into the vacuum of space. Here he is reunited with 1203 – stars shining brightly.

We Can’t Live Without Cosmos boasts fantastically smart visual humour and beautiful sentiment of what true companionship and brotherhood mean.

The film is filled with an ideal that many can only dream of and the ultimate tragedy of the film is overpowered by romance and a warming beauty dedicated to friendship and all that it stands for.

With a runtime of just 15 minutes and 25 seconds We Can’t Live Without Cosmos is truly proof that film does not need to be feature length to produce something truly funny, meaningful and touching. 

Image courtesy of Alexander Boyarsky, via YouTube, with thanks.

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