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flick pick | Beautiful People 2001
Directed + written by: Jasmin Dizdar
Starring: Charlotte Coleman, Edin Dzandzanovic, Nicholas Farrell, Danny Nussbaum, Dad Jehan, Faruk Prutti
Language: English
Look for it at the video store under:
Watch it when you’re in the mood for
something: darkly comic 
The critic says: ˝/ 5 the rating system explained
Fun factor: ˝/5

Plot synopsis It’s mid-90s London, during the height of the Bosnian war, and refugees from the former Yugoslavia are arriving in Britain in hordes. On a city bus, a man catches a glimpse of an apparent stranger and promptly proceeds to attack him. The two men are ejected from the bus, where they continue their fight by chasing each other through the streets. After they’ve finally pummeled each other to a pulp, both men end up in the hospital – in adjacent beds. As it turns out, one’s a Serb and the other a Croat – and even in the hospital, their hatred towards one another is too strong to prevent them from trying their damnedest to kill one another. At the same hospital, stressed-out obstetrician Dr. Mouldy – whose personal life has been falling apart since his wife decided to leave him alone with his two rowdy young sons – cares for an expectant young refugee couple, who plead desperately with him to kill the baby, conceived during the wife’s rape by soldiers, whom they can’t help but think of as their enemy. Meanwhile, a nurse-in-training named Portia, who happens to be the rebellious liberal daughter of two very posh, very stuffy parents, falls in love with one of her patients, a refugee named Pero. And in a fourth storyline, a young man named Griffin, a good-for-nothing heroin addict who’s the source of constant worry and disappointment for his parents, finds himself on a slight detour from his plans to catch a soccer match with his mates when he falls into a drug-induced stupor at the airport, and wakes up to find he’s been airdropped smack dab in the middle of the Bosnian warzone.

Review It’s hard to imagine a subject more unlikely to end up at the core of a comedy than the Bosnian conflict. It’s even more surprising  that it mostly works – writer/ director Jasmin Dizdar manages to find quite a few laughs in the absurdities of war and its consequences, and even more interestingly, shows how a war that seems so physically and emotionally removed from the experiences of your average Brit (or American, or any citizen of a politically-stable country) can reach into lives like our own. The laughs are mostly dark, a little caustic. There’s the Serb and the Croat, beat-up, bandaged and lying side-by-side in a London hospital room, bellowing "I hate you"s at each other in their native tongue – the irony of it all being that they’re the only two people there who can actually understand one another. There's the outrageous condescension and ignorance shown by Portia’s snooty uppercrust political family, as when one relative attempts conversation with Pero by announcing, "I, personally, am thoroughly against ethnic cleansing." But then there’s the thoroughly surreal scene where lunkhead Griffin finds himself inadvertently becoming part of the humanitarian aid effort – and it’s the optimism and playfulness of scenes such as this one that make Dizdar’s film so special. The film does a good job of skillfully interweaving the storylines and revealing the connections between these seemingly unrelated characters (it’s been described as a more accessible Magnolia). Still, there’s something a little frustrating about the way in which, by film’s end, you get the feeling that the small triumphs the characters have achieved in their lives are probably fleeting. Then again, maybe that’s part of the point – in life, you have to take those small joys where you can find them. —reviewed by Y. Sun

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