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BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE

SYNOPSIS:
On October 13, 1993, lives intersect in London at the height of the Bosnian conflict. A Serb (Dado Jehan) and a Croat (Faruk Pruti) recognise each other on a bus and start a running battle that continues even after the two end up in hospital. One of the doctors at the hospital is Dr Mouldy (Nicholas Farrell) who’s drawn into the problems of two young refugees who have grave concerns about their unborn child. The doctor meanwhile is trying to make a connection with his own boys in the middle of an acrimonious split. The boys go to a school run by Mr Midge (Roger Sloman) who sternly rules over his own family. His son Griffin (Danny Nussbaum) has fallen in with the wrong types and plans to go to Holland for a World Cup qualifier – but his journey takes a terrible turn. His path will cross with that of BBC journalist Gerry Higgins (Gilbert Martin). And trainee doctor Portia (Charlotte Coleman) has fallen in love with a Bosnian patient (Edin Dzandzanovic), much to the dismay of her Tory MP father (Charles Kay).

"Realism blends with comic hilarity in this extraordinary look at Bosnian refugees attempting to integrate themselves into a London community. Similar in structure to Altman’s Short Cuts or more recently Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia, Beautiful People interweaves the stories of a number of loosely connected characters, linked somehow through their relationship to the war in Bosnia. It is also reminiscent of Kusturica’s Black Cat White Cat, in the way that so much is happening, all unravelling at breakneck pace. Yet Dizdar ultimately brings it together in a way that is at once poignant and entertaining. Along the way he imparts some powerful messages, mainly through the synthesis of black humour with graphic realism. This is best exemplified in one of the most astounding sequences, where a young man in a drug induced stupor ends up being parachuted into a Bosnian war zone with some UN food supplies. Eventually he becomes the unlikely hero when his heroin stash is used to aid a leg amputation operation. With the help of a remarkable performance by Danny Nussbaum as the disaffected youth, Dizdar seamlessly fuses together the absolute horror of war, with the farcical nature of the situation. In doing so, he conveys the irony of a world where war-torn countries are without the most basic medicines, yet western countries have increasing drug problems. Beautiful People is overflowing with such insights, deftly evoked by the filmmaker. Although the conflict in Bosnia is the connective tissue, Dizdar’s aim is not to force his own political agenda upon us, but rather, to find humanity in unlikely circumstances. Hence the title, which is not meant to be sardonic but to reflect the way his characters ultimately make a difference in each other’s lives. "
Angie Fox

"Within the first few minutes of Beautiful People, we've been introduced to a wide range of characters including an upper-crust Tory MP, a teenage skinhead, and a frazzled doctor whose hyperactive twin sons, aged around six, run about chanting 'England! England!' The ambition is clear: in its modest, humorous way, this is a Condition of England movie, a report on the state of the nation high and low. Across these different storylines, certain common themes are evident - race, class, relationships between parents and children - but it takes a while for a central focus to emerge. As we eventually find out, each story revolves around an encounter between 'ordinary' English people and victims of the war in Bosnia. The results, unfortunately, seem all too upbeat; the wit and freshness of the filmmaking can't quite disguise the facile 'feelgood' message. Everything seems to work out for the best: the skinhead (and, by extension, his mates) is redeemed when he gets a chance to help others, the MP's daughter manages to escape from her stuffy family, and a young refugee couple name their baby 'Chaos' in recognition of the joys and sorrows of this crazy mixed-up world. It's as if, on the one side, insular Brits needed the wake-up call of real war and suffering; and on the other, ethnic tensions could be defused by healthy British common sense. Neither part of this equation is honest, yet the film has to wrestle with its contradictions without directly admitting them. When the terminally woolly-minded MP says of the conflict that 'both sides are equally at fault,' he's set up as a target for easy satire; still, the film hardly gets beyond this point of view, and its good-natured compassion often seems equally blank."
Jake Wilson

"Beautiful People uses the war in Bosnia as its pivotal reference point - but don’t think this is a film about that conflict (a la Welcome to Sarajevo). This is more about Britain than it is about former Yugoslavia. The trick for first-time feature director Jasmin Dizdar is to strike a balance between her paean to the UK and her plea for sanity in the Balkans. She achieves this with varying degrees of success, with the film resonating strongly at times, while descending into platitudes at others. To her credit though, she injects considerable humour into the subject matter. An in-built limitation in a film like this, with its plethora of characters, is that some stories are more interesting than others. In Beautiful People, the story of the young refugee couple and their baby is emblematic of all the film is trying to say and, combined with the involvement of the harried doctor, is the most effective of all those presented. On the other hand, the love story between Portia and her Bosnian patient is not fully developed and ends up being little more than rhetoric. But in the end Beautiful People manages to overcome most of its shortcomings. The cast of largely unknown actors is uneven, although bolstered by some familiar faces including Charlotte Coleman (Four Weddings and a Funeral) and Charles Kay (Henry V). Beautiful People is made with obvious passion even though at times that passion may be misplaced. But when it works, it works brilliantly."
David Edwards

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 1

TRAILER

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See Nick Roddick's interview with

JASMIN DIZDAR

BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE (MA)
(UK)

CAST: Charlotte Coleman, Charles Kay, Rosalind Ayres, Roger Sloman, Julian Firth, Heather Tobias, Danny Nussbaum, Siobhan Redmond, Gilbert Martin, Steve Sweeney

DIRECTOR: Jasmin Dizdar

PRODUCER: Ben Woolford

SCRIPT: Jasmin Dizdar

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Barry Ackroyd

EDITOR: Justin Kirsh

MUSIC: Garry Bell

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Jon Henson

RUNNING TIME: 107 min

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Dendy

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: May 18, 2000







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