Beautiful People

Director: Jasmin Dizdar

A grey autumn day in October 1993. Two apparent strangers start a fight on a double-decker bus and are thrown off. One is a Serb, the other a Croat and they’re fighting their own mini Bosnian war in the heart of London. This is the starting point for the epic Beautiful People, a human comedy with even more characters and plot-lines than Robert Altman’s Short Cuts. Director Jasmin Dizdar, who was born in Bosnia and studied film at the FAMU film school in Prague, acknowledges that the sheer logistics of a film with 25 leading characters and 30 principle locations was daunting. But I wouldn’t compare the film with Short Cuts at all, he insists.
On the face of it, Beautiful People may appear more like a naturalistic, character-driven drama in the Mike Leigh or Ken Loach vein. Dizdar, however, throws in various semi-surreal scenes, none more startling that the one in which a drunken, drugged-up English football fan (Danny Nussbaum), weaving his way across the airport tarmac in Amsterdam, collapses, falls asleep, and ends up being parachuted into the Bosnian war zone with a consignment of humanitarian supplies. Here, his stash of heroin proves invaluable to UN medics without proper supplies.
Dizdar also casts a satirical outsider’s eye on British culture. In scenes vaguely reminiscent of Lindsay Anderson’s Britannia Hospital, we see stressed docters, callous politicians, teachers and journalists go about their business. Although the writer-director exposes the petty snobbery and cruelty of the characters, the film ends on an oddly benevolent note.

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