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1h 40m Comedy, Drama, Australia, Australian 1996
Best Screenplay - AFI Award Winner

A twenty-something Australian man has trouble holding down a job, and his latest venture is to direct a play.

Ben Mendelsohn stars as Lewis Riley, an unemployed young man who applies for a job as a director/drama teacher at a psychiatric hospital. He lands the job and finds himself directing a production of the Mozart opera, Così fan tutte, an elaborate and demanding piece of theatre and opera in Italian, which is going to be performed by a cast that he must select from among the patients, who only speak English.

The cast chosen include three women: Julie (Toni Collette), Ruth (Pamela Rabe), and Cherry (Jacki Weaver), and two men: Henry (Paul Chubb) and Doug (David Wenham). The musical director is Zac (Colin Hay), and one of the patients, Roy (Barry Otto), organises auditions, selects cast members and criticises the director, with an enthusiasm that infects the group as they charge headlong into a memorable production.

Alongside the story of Lewis, the theme of Così fan tutte is explored as it relates to his personal life. Lewis’s relationship with his girlfriend Lucy (Rachel Griffiths), already under pressure, is not helped by his friend Nick (Aden Young), who seems more interested in testing Lucy’s faithfulness than anything else.

The story is loosely based on the production of Trial by Jury at Plenty Hospital in suburban Melbourne in 1971.


Ben Mendelsohn (Lewis Riley) , Barry Otto (Roy) , Toni Collette (Julie) , Paul Chubb (Henry)


Mark Joffe



Closed Captions [CC]




Bonus Content

Interview with Richard Brennan

2022 interview with Cosi producer Richard Brennan about the film, crew, and cast.

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