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With: Charlotte Coleman, Charles Kay, Rosalind Ayres, Roger Sloman, Heather Tobias, Danny Nussbaum, Siobhan Redmond, Gilbert Martin, Steve Sweeney, Linda Bassett, Nicholas Farrell, Faruk Pruti, Dado Jehan, Edin Dzandzanovic, Walentine McGaughey, Radoslav Youroukov, Nicholas McGaughey
Written by: Jasmin Dizdar
Directed by: Jasmin Dizdar
MPAA Rating: R for drug use, language and some violent content
Running Time: 107
Date: 05/18/1999
IMDB

Beautiful People (1999)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Hostility

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

When watching Beautiful People one may get the impression of seeing a Ken Loach (Land and Freedom, My Name Is Joe) movie, or at least a careful copy. It has Loach's feel for political atmosphere and the working class. Then we discover that director Jasmin Dizdar has used Loach's usual cameraman Barry Ackroyd. But Dizdar is no copycat. He may have been influenced by Loach but this is his own movie.

Dizdar is a former Bosnian who moved to England and received citizenship there. Most of the political atmosphere of the film has to do with Bosnia and its relationship with England. One character is a Bosnian refugee (Edin Dzandzanovic) newly arrived in England who barely speaks a word of English. A man in customs tells him not to lose his paperwork, that it represents his whole life. He writes down the word "life" on a piece of paper so he won't forget. Another young refugee (Radoslav Yourukov) has a wife (Walentine Giorgiewa) who is pregnant as a result of a sexual assault by another man. The young fellow is a filmmaker and shows his doctor films of his wife wearing her wedding dress.

Many different characters populate Beautiful People, and the movie moves back and forth between them with liquid ease. In retrospect, some of the stories may seem abrupt or cliched. But while you're watching, the movie breezes along. It's a joyful experience. For example, one rebellious youth on drugs wanders onto an airfield and falls asleep on a pile of provisions. When he wakes up he finds that he has been dropped (via parachute) into the war fields of Bosnia. He becomes a confused volunteer with a medical unit and uses his heroin to ease the pain of a man about to have his leg amputated. Later, he rescues a small child and takes him under his wing. The youth renounces his evil ways and becomes a hero. This all seems unlikely, but the movie's breezy style makes it work for us.

Some of the best scenes, including the opening, involve a Serbian man (Dado Jehan) and a Croatian man (Faruk Pruti). On a casual bus ride the two meet each other's gaze and immediately begin beating the tar out of one another. They end up in the same hospital room and continue to try and fight all through the movie. A nurse and another patient get involved and a violent situation is diffused into comedy.

Our Bosnian refugee (with the "life" paperwork) eventually falls in love with a nurse (Charlotte Coleman, best known as "Scarlet" in 1994's Four Weddings and a Funeral) at the same hospital. In another great scene, she takes him home to meet her rich and stuck up parents. They give him a proper grilling, and with the best of intentions, he thanks them very much for their "hostility."

I think I like Beautiful People because it's one of those movies that you may dread seeing, but you suddenly find yourself really enjoying it. It's not sledgehammer political picutre in which the filmmaker and the characters wave their agendas in your face. It's just about people as they try to make their way in the world. Beautiful People is a wonderful film.

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