Fantasia International Film Festival is full of genre films, and Cosmic Candy (2019) – directed by Rinio Dragasaki – hits the fantasy genre early, and returns to it on occasion. Anna (Maria Kitsou) is sitting in a shopping cart like a small child would, but the world she is in clearly seems imaginary. She cracks open a pack of Cosmic Candy (which is like PopRocks), and her cart begins to fly as the popping sensation takes her away. That is, however, until her dream is rudely interrupted by a young neighbor, Persa (Pipera Maya), who is rehearsing for her school play. Anna bangs on the wall to get the noise to stop, and she is later confronted by Persa in the hallway about it. Much is learned in these moments, but Anna is a little odd – and Persa is, too.
The two characters, who are later forced together when Persa’s father vanishes and Anna finally caves and allows Persa to crash at her place, are very well developed and quite empathetic. Yet, there is something that never quite pops in this film – everything feels rather bland and unimportant. That isn’t to say there are moments where the conflict arises and the stakes become real, but it just never really managed to garner any kind of reaction. The tension was weak. The laughs were mere shrugs. Even the endearment to the characters was very superficial. It was ultimately missing something to make it mean more than just moving pictures on a screen.
Everything about the film feels slightly disconnected. It didn’t seem to be a result of cultural misunderstanding, as this is a Greek film and I am an American with little knowledge of the current state of Greece. Anna is obsessed with Cosmic Candy, and the film having the same name seems to imply some level of significance to it. While the candy is in the film often and receives plenty of references, it really never seems to hold any real weight. It is one of many things that Anna’s “OCD” seems to cling to.
Fortunately, this film manages to not be bad, because the cast does a good job in their performances, and the characters are likable enough…if only the material had been elevated just a little to make it feel more substantial. Cosmic Candy earns the Decent Watch rating.