A young Austrian survives the crash of a commercial airliner. Six years later, she's a clerk, a mother, happy. Then she dies in a car accident. Over the next year, we follow her daughter, ... See full summary »
A young Austrian survives the crash of a commercial airliner. Six years later, she's a clerk, a mother, happy. Then she dies in a car accident. Over the next year, we follow her daughter, who goes through various medical blood tests, her husband, her best friend who's been having an affair with her husband, her sister who trades sex for shelter, her brother and his hesitant friendship with an emotionally-locked clerk at a pharmacy, the clerk's lonely mother, an unpopular high-school student with bad skin, and the boy she may connect with, who was driving the car in the fatal crash. In happenstance are there patterns? In life is there meaning? Written by
interesting as an intellectual exercise, less so as a drama
"Free Radicals" is a stark, slow-moving meditation on the randomness of life. Matching style to theme, this Austrian film relates a half dozen or so barely connected stories, all of which deal with the part fate and luck play in determining the direction of our lives. In some cases, the characters are the victims of accidents or illness, while in others they becomes prisoners of their own needs and desires. In all the cases, however, the characters live a drab, loveless existence, filled with unfulfilled dreams and loneliness.
Although the film begins with an interesting premise, the overall effect is so off-putting and depressing that we really can't enjoy the movie on anything but the most purely intellectual level. The people here just seem so miserable and unhappy that we want to get away from them as quickly as possible and head back to our own lives, imperfect though they might be. Perhaps by including so many characters, the film dilutes its focus, making it hard for us to fully identify with any one person and make us care about his or her fate. Despite good acting, this crazy quilt approach turns the movie into more of a clinical exercise than a deeper involving human drama, and lends it an air of greater pretentiousness than it might otherwise have had.
Enter the world of "Free Radicals" if you must, but you might want to take some Prozac along with you to help get you through it.
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