Chaos. It's the name of the baby in the ironically named BEAUTIFUL
PEOPLE by first-time writer/director Jasmin Dizdar, but CHAOS would have
been a more appropriate name for this unappetizing mess of a movie.
Not 15 minutes into the film and we've already been introduced to dozens
and dozens of characters. It's like going to a cocktail party and being
shown around by a hostess on roller skates. Not just any cocktail party,
but a multicultural one in which almost everyone is angry and unhappy
and in which racism runs rampant. But thanks to the choppy editing and
dizzying handheld camerawork -- is purposely shaking the camera really
necessary to attempt cinematic pseudo-realism? -- the movie is like an
incoherent story told by an inebriated guest.
Get your checklist ready because most of society's ills will make brief
guest appearances. From heroin addiction to gang rape, they're all
there. But they fly by with such velocity that you'll have trouble
pondering anything for long, although you will get the director's point
about life being hard and grim. He makes lots of other points too. Keep
that checklist handy. Messages zip by like Super Bowl commercials.
One reporter for the BBC suffers from "Bosnia Syndrome." This affliction
means that he has so identified with the victims of the war that he lies
on the train track in order that his leg can be severed too.
The movie plays fast and loose with plausibility in the hopes of getting
some cheap laughs. After two men pulverize each other on a bus, they are
taken away and put in the same hospital ward, with adjoining beds no
less. This means that they can continue their private warfare in the
hospital, pulling out each other's tubes and punching each other. Never
are the police called to put a stop to this mayhem.
In perhaps the hardest scene to buy in the movie, an ex-Bosnian soldier
marries into a wealthy British family in which the father is an MP. At
the lavish wedding, the Bosnian soldier's post-wedding speech has the
crowd aghast as he tells them about his killing women and children. The
filmmaker would appear to have us believe that it is a cultural thing
and that the soldier doesn't realize how inappropriate his speech is.
Dizdar tries without much luck to wrap up his movie in the end by tying
things together. It's a tedious film that isn't saved by its moral
ambitions. Like a rambling preacher, Dizdar has a lot on his mind, but
his lack of focus and his inability to create fully developed characters
means that his good intentions never amount to anything. Sometimes less
really is more.
BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE runs 1:47. It is rated R for violence including graphic
war violence, drug usage and language. The film would be acceptable for
older high school students.
Copyright © 2000 Steve Rhodes