Cesc Gay remains a unique voice within the Spanish film industry. His cinema is diverse in its forms and themes, and rare in its sincere authenticity. His 2000 film Nico and Dani was a fresh coming-of-age story about two boys navigating new sexual experiences. He then made the much more brooding In the City, about a group of thirtysomethings and their hidden desires and confusions. This was followed by the implosive romance Fiction, peopled with characters marked by a similar introspection as those of In the City.
V.O.S., Gay’s fifth feature, is something entirely different. Like Nico and Dani, it’s adapted from a stage play, but the similarity ends there. V.O.S. is a playful experimentation. Almost all of the interior scenes of the film occur right on a film set, with technicians and actors constantly coming into contact with one another. A romantic comedy about two couples, the film explores love and friendship while also reflecting on the creative process and the difficulty of telling stories based on real-life experience when the writer is continually manipulating the audience.
Gay works with the same actors who presented the play by Carol López. Clara (Ágata Roca) has been close friends with Manu (Paul Berrondo). As they are both single and pushing forty, they decide to have a baby together despite not being a couple. Manu’s best friend, Ander (Andrés Herrera), a filmmaker working on a script about two couples, has been dating Vicky (Vicenta Ndongo) for years. She is the one who drives the relationship forward, in the face of Ander’s obvious reticence. The four begin spending a lot of time together, and unbeknownst to the other two, Clara and Ander start to fall in love.
Funny, romantic and fresh, V.O.S. pushes narrative boundaries. The audience is always aware that it is watching a production, witnessing the whole intricate process of filmmaking as the cast and crew interact. Gay invites us into the intimate atmosphere of his home and work with a compelling and honest commentary on the lies implicit in telling true stories. —TIFF