In London, during October 1993, England is playing Holland in the preliminaries of the World Cup. The Bosnian War is at its height, and refugees from the ex-Yugoslavia are arriving. ...
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In London, during October 1993, England is playing Holland in the preliminaries of the World Cup. The Bosnian War is at its height, and refugees from the ex-Yugoslavia are arriving. Football rivals, and political adversaries from the Balkans all precipitate conflict and amusing situations. Meanwhile, the lives of four English families are affected in different ways by encounter with the refugees; one of the families improbably becomes involved with a Balkan refugee through the England vs. Holland match. Written by
I went to the theatre cold, had heard nothing about Beautiful People beyond its title. I was fairly unimpressed with the first part of the movie; the opening scenes from the tussle of the bus were elegaically constructed and did serve as the 'running' commentary for the film, but other scenes were set up quite stodgily: the Conservative family with the renegade child (I did enjoy the element of class consciousness in the hospital scene where she hesitantly asks for help from the nurses); the father stuck with the kids when their mother leaves (because he's such a prat?); the artistic and neglectful mother... the stuff of many British films and almost every Sunday night teleplay. What lifts Beautiful People is its awareness, and consequent subversion, of this predictable British fare. From the second the skinhead wanders in a fairytale-like trance into a trolley of supplies destined for Bosnia, the film busts the genre wide open. This happenning gives the film permission to explore the stories to their possible happy resolutions. If only a racist skinhead could get his face pushed into the lives some of those he ignorantly attacks! The scene at the end, where the racists are reading a bedtime fairy story to the blinded Bosnian child is our cue that this part of the film has, indeed, been nothing more than a fairytale. All fairytales are a gory story with a moral twist from which children learn how life is. And so with the intent of this film. The daughter of a Conservative minister would never marry a refugee so he could stay in the country, and the family would certainly not accept such a marriage - think of the scandal! Yet, once the barrier of British realism has been rent asunder by the skinhead's fall into Bosnia (not quite Wonderland!), this becomes possible. The realism remained with the war scenes, and I think these are what we are supposed to have lodged in our minds when we leave the theatre. I can't imagine the real Bosnia was much different to this. The final message I took from the film is: if you had experienced it, then you would be craving for happy endings too. I liked it. I forgot how lumbering the first part of the film was once the filmmaker gave herself permission to dispense with realism. I left the theatre thinking very deeply about the conflict in Bosnia; which was as it should be.
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