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Beautiful People Review

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Stories interweave as Londoners cross paths with various survivors of the Bosnian conflict.

★★★★

With all the big-budget no-brain fluff around, it's worth remembering that good films can still cost less than $80 million. This debut feature from writer-director Dizdar cost £1.1 million, and rather than fritter it on effects and stars, he has crafted a piece with the poignancy, wit and vibrancy to sink a thousand Titanics.

The action opens, appropriately enough, with a Serb and a Croat getting into a fight on a London bus. But although this shows the essence of what Dizdar is trying to say, he has chosen not to shove the conflict down the audience's throat. Instead he creates a multi-faceted and moving ensemble drama, with each interwoven story demonstrating different aspects of the war; there's Portia (Coleman), an upper-class rebel who falls for refugee Pero (Dzandzanovic). Griffin (Nussbaum), a young junkie who, after a drugged-up trip abroad, ends up parachuting into the conflict. And Jerry (Martin), a BBC correspondent who succumbs to Bosnian War Syndrome after witnessing the full horror.

It's an ambitious movie, but Dizdar succeeds in making each story fascinating, drawing laughs despite the tragedy. The acting is superb throughout, Martin particularly good as the increasingly wired journo, Nussbaum effective as a young man determined to turn his life around and Dzandzanovic sympathetic as a foreigner haunted by the baggage he brings from his homeland.

It's a movie with a lot to say and, yes, Dizdar is probably trying to promote a message of awareness and peace. But it's packed so full of energy that any danger of self-righteousness soon vanishes.

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