A group of wealthy bohemians clash with each other as they're targeted by a gang of murderers. Upper class bohemian Giles (Charlie Condou), whose biggest worry in life seems to be the state of his teeth, has inherited a large estate from his family, and one weekend he invites large group of friends to join him for a weekend of drug-fueled debauchery. Ennui-stricken Cecilia (Olivia Williams), her hulking boyfriend Andy (Christian Solimeno), high-strung Quentin (Paul Bettany), his spouse Cecilia (Alexandra Gilbreath), hygiene-challenged Keith (Andy Nyman), unstable Skip (Kris Marshall), man-hungry Roxanne (Hayley Carr), drug-dealing Marvel (William Marsh), and Lucy (Katy Carmichael), who has been involved with most of the men in attendance, all settle in for a few days of conversation, free love, and good not-so-clean fun. But the revelers are unaware that the Conceptualists, a murderous terrorist organization, have staked out the mansion, and soon they're receiving messages from ...
Based on Martin Amis' novel "Dead Babies." For U.S. release, the name was changed to "Mood Swingers." See more »
When Keith is shown playing a video game (just prior to being the "drug tester"), he is holding a PlayStation 2 controller. However, the game clip shown is actually of the Nintendo 64 game "Perfect Dark". See more »
'Dead Babies' is perhaps of the shallowest of Martin Amis's novels: a vicious satirical attack on the smart set in 1970s London: wealthy, fashionable, drug-addled, and paranoid, it follows them through a desperate and debauched weekend. The book's tone is flippant, with the strong implication that the characters don't actually deserve any treatment more reverent; while the novel justifies its own existence through the outrageous comedy of its hyperbolic prose. But hyperbolic prose, and drug-fuelled hysteria, are two things hard to capture in film (think Terry Gilliam's disastrous adaptation of 'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, for example). In his film of 'Dead Babies', director William Marsh uses the imagery of the modern video game, or pop video (something by the Progidy, perhaps, although this idea is maybe brought to mind merely by the presence of a grotesque character called Keith). This technique is less anachronistic than it might seem, as the setting is also updated to the present day, but unfortunately it's also familiar, and dull, in a way that the book's original prose never was: a collection of gross-out images set to techno. In places, flashes of Amis's humour shine through, but elsewhere the film seems amateurish. Amis's novels have always had a self-awareness that allows their author to get away with excesses that would otherwise be inexcusable; but this movie lacks the faint hint of self-mockery that help redeem the book. Finally, I haven't read the book for ages, but unless my memory is playing tricks on me, the ending was somewhat different the one we get in the film, which is also excessive, but futilely stupid in a way that the original writing never was.
I remain a big fan of Martin Amis, and I suspect that some (but not all) of his other books might potentially make more successful films than this one. But the path to adaptation is strewn with peril. In the case of 'Dead Babies', something is definitely lost in translation.
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