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Overall Rating

Awesome: 37.93%
Worth A Look: 13.79%
Average: 3.45%
Pretty Bad44.83%
Total Crap: 0%

3 reviews, 11 user ratings

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Beautiful People
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by billypilgrimnz

"Great series of vignettes about living in a multicultural society"
5 stars

I'm a fan of large casts and interlocking plots, and this is a superb example. It starts with one of the least graceful, most shambling foot chases on film: a Croat and a Serb meet on a bus in London, and ethnic animosity explodes into messy, wanton violence.

Brawling their way past the shocked passengers, they bustle through the door onto the street. The Croat attempts to escape, and together the two disheveled men lumber up the street like two drunken men; it's POINT BREAK with 200 more pounds and less homoeroticism. Eventually the two men, exhausted and bloody, taken to hospital together, and are wheeled into the same room, to be shared with a disgruntled Welshman. Welcome to London, circa 1993.

And so kicks off BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE, a multi-character, multi-story celebration of the minutia of multi-cultural society; a loving ode to the very British concept of "just getting along". It takes the concept pioneered by such films as SHORT CUTS and MAGNOLIA and somehow manages to at once to both broaden the scope (it has a lot to say about British involvement in Bosnia for instance, and is intricately bound in the plight of immigrants) while establishing intimacy with the characters; it's the thematic equivalent of that old zoom-in/pull-back camera trick made popular in Jaws. Among the stories and characters floating around are these: a trainee doctor (Charlotte Coleman) falls for a young man from Yugoslavia (Edin Dzandzanovic) and takes him back to meet her staunchly conservative parents; a disrespectful teenager (Danny Nussbaum) and two of his mates travel to Holland for an England soccer game and some drugs; a journalist for the BBC (Gilbert Martin) travels to Bosnia and is wounded; a pediatrician (Nicholas Farrell) whose wife has left him with his two manic sons, and who has to contend with the case of a Bosnian couple (Walentine Giorgiewa and Radoslav Youroukov) who don't want to go through with an impending birth; and of course, our two bus combatants, seething with a resentment that they find difficult to explain to others, and perhaps to themselves.

On the face of it, the film sounds like the stuff of a gritty, Ken Loach family drama, but writer-director Dizdar fashions distinct human comedy from the material. It's not mean-spirited and it's definitely not broad - it's the humor derived merely from having so many people in close proximity; laughter based on familiarity, inappropriate actions and the key to the human condition, embarrassment. In other words, it's morbid and sarcastic - and very funny. It also manages to be one of the few films dedicated to the depiction of immigrants that doesn't lose itself in cataloguing individual cultural differences - and thus condescend with a commitment to obviousness. BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE is all about the way people in a foreign country attempt to interact, and ultimately assimilate, with the native population. The benefit of this is that the film oozes with a subtle kind of tension, societyís bonds stretching and contracting, and it keeps individual scenes alive, even as the events maintain their every day banality.

Except for one of the storylines, which is sure to provoke debate based on itís sheer outrageousness, the outlandish and totally unbelievable turn of events (of course telling you the details would spoil the fun, wouldn't it?). But such is Dizdar's ability at taking incidental moments and condensing them into something meaningful, he grabs the shaggy dog story and wrangles it into something ultimately illuminating and exalting. It's the sort of sideline, off-centre subplot that turns up in novels all the time, and it's also the kind of thing you'd find in the first drafts of screenplays, which are then removed in subsequent revisions by automatons to improve the 'arc' of story, whatever the hell that is. It's a credit to the film that it survives and soars - making you believe once more that cinema can truly pull off anything if the talent, and desire, is there.

That said, the film thrives less on plot and more on the sheer energy created by the frenzy of characters and their individual actions. Dizdar is smart, and confident enough, to know that his characters fuel the movie, generating energy from their at times brief interactions, kinetic energy as they angle off each other, change each other imperceptibly. So he is content to wheel them together and let them go nuts. Technically, the film is calm and simple - smoothly, unobtrusively shot, the way the Dogme crew would be doing it if they were weren't so distracted by the ego-stroking pleasure of simply being different. But by cataloguing the raft and diversity of human emotion and actions, and the sheer messiness of living, BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE evokes such spirit of constant movement that the film becomes a polished blur - and we can see ourselves reflected in it, our fears, our insecurities, our lives. And it's exhilarating.

Sensitive to the friction of living with other people, this is a fantastic fly-on-the-wall slice of humanism.

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originally posted: 01/31/05 21:57:45
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User Comments

6/16/10 brian Very dark comedy about people and items (e.g. drugs) changing places in order to belong. 4 stars
4/08/07 Phil M. Aficionado I like the genre and yet I couldn't connect with this; too scattered and frenetic 2 stars
1/22/03 UMAR ZAMAN GOOD 5 stars
4/06/02 Jessi This is a great movie about a great man who is going though something no one can understand 5 stars
3/02/02 jhgjhg kjhghg a very good movie 5 stars
10/05/01 Theo Really cool 4 stars
6/02/01 Dom Corleone Intelligent and moving 5 stars
4/13/01 Randall W lash A deep thinking movie that is about the chaos life can create. Although Bosina was in the t 4 stars
6/21/00 Michael O"Neill Excellent film - I disagree greatly with the critiques above 5 stars
3/24/00 Heather Interesting, thought provoking, compassionate movie, worth looking up 4 stars
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