Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Based on a play by Carol López and featuring the same four principal actors, V.O.S. (which translates to Original Subtitled Version), follows two men and two women and their shifting and evolving relationships. Clara and Manu are friends who decide to have a baby together, while Ander and Vicky are a long-time couple. Ander is creating a screenplay with the four of them starring in a film-within-the-film based on their relationships, but the line between the film and reality is constantly blurred. Conversations that start on set simply continue as the actors step off set and vice-versa, so you're never quite sure what parts are "real" and what parts are Ander's version of reality.

Lighter in tone than some of his other works, director Cesc Gay has still created a film that is different than a straightforward romance or comedy or drama. It is essentially just one story but the shifting viewpoints can be a bit confusing as the frame constantly shifts from the four in their roles to the four in their real lives. It is interesting in the sense that the interior film provides Ander's view of events, while the actors in the 'real world' of the exterior film provide the counterbalance of their own viewpoints. Gay takes an interesting approach to the film but it can be a bit challenging to watch.

Director Cesc Gay did a Q&A after the film:

  • Catalan movies are often dubbed, as opposed to subtitled, otherwise it would only play in Madrid, Valencia, Barcelona, maybe in the north in San Sebastian. But at TIFF was the original version. In the play, the four characters create a great work in progress, their own characters and dialogs. The male characters are Basque, the women from Catalonia.
  • The play was the same characters and story, but the play was in a little square, with table two sofas, a lamp.
  • When he adapted the play, Gay wanted to look at the relationship between reality and fiction. And in a way the characters are living in the set; the crew is helping the characters to have a movie.
  • The film was released in Spain at the end of July, and is still alive in Barcelona and Madrid. It is a comedy, but not an easy movie. He's not sure if it will release in North America.
  • His films are about what he sees, and are often based on what his friends are going through.
  • Gay asked his real crew to be in the film, but they didn't want to at first because they were busy working with the film, so he cast actors for the crew. But then his crew wanted to be in the film.
  • All the actors are close friends, so was an easy movie to make.
  • The actress who plays Clara, Àgata Roca, is actually Gay's wife in real life.
  • Movie references were in the play, it was a very cinematographic play because it was written by a journalist; very cinematic with flashbacks in the play, and one of the characters is a screenwriter.
  • Reference to Tarantino; Gay says he is a great writer and filmmaker, in the way he tells stories like in Pulp Fiction or Reservoir Dogs; reference in film is just a reflection that Anders doesn't have the same talent.


I, too, found this challenging to watch: the constant distancing effect of the film vs reality gimmick really made the character relationships seem not only trivial, but confusing! I use the word 'gimmick' intentionally, because after listening to the talkback, I was convinced that the Director was not really exploring anything with this conceit -- just applying a surface layer of style to a story.

My experiences at the Toronto International Film Festival. Note this blog is not affiliated with the Toronto International Film Festival Group or the festival itself.
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