Beautiful People

Beautiful People, the new film written and directed by Jasmin Dizdar, is a breath of fresh air. The film chronicles a multitude of interlocking storylines set in the Slavic immigrant community of London. That alone sets it apart from most other movies. In recent movies, the only Serbs or Croats on screen are usually terrorists or refugees. Beautiful People looks at their new lives in a new type of battlefield, this time facing prejudice and ignorance.

The people in Beautiful People are not necessarily beautiful in an attractive sense. They are beautiful because they are ordinary. There is at least one person in the large cast that everyone can relate to. The movie begins with a Serb (Dado Jehan) and a Croat (Faruk Pruti) meeting on the bus. The are from the same Bosnian village, and one burned the other's house to the ground. They two then begin a citywide chase, beating each other as hard as they can. It is funny and poignant at the same time. Scenes shift quickly, almost chaotically, in the beginning, slowly coalescing into a more coherent narrative. Even with the multitude of stories, no one story overshadows another. Each of the characters receives a decent amount of screen time and the viewer cares about what happens to each one.

In Magnolia, director Paul Thomas Anderson connected his stories marginally. Here, Dizdar's characters are much more related. They meet each other on the street, or live next to each other. They are a part of others' lives. There are three drug-abusing soccer hooligans (including Danny Nussbaum) en route to Amsterdam, and an overworked doctor (Nicholas Farrell, Plunkett and Macleane) trying to deal with his estranged wife and bratty children. A BBC correspondent (Gilbert Martin, Rob Roy) headed off to Bosnia, and a doctor (Charlotte Coleman, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Twice Upon a Yesterday) who falls in love with a refugee (Edin Dzandzanovic). The relative anonymity of most of the actors helps to contribute to the brute realness of Beautiful People. These actors don't really look like actors, they look like people.

Many of the refugees are trying to acclimate to life in London, amid anti-immigrant sentiments, both hostile and ignorant. On the other hand, the Londoners are trying to adjust to life with these new people. Dizdar opens each character wholly, giving an unobstructed view of their thoughts and feelings. The message is that while there may be vast superficial differences, deep down, everyone is the same. It is loud and clear, but never preachy. Instead, Beautiful People uses genuine emotion and humor (both gentle and dark). Dizdar proves that with a good script, expensive special effects and big name Hollywood stars aren't necessary for a good movie.

Mongoose Rates It: Pretty Good.
1 hour, 47 minutes, Rated R for drug use, language, and some violent content.

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