A bleakly comic tale of Bosnian refugees loose around London is surely a hard sell in a country still suffering from cynical Balkan-fatigue. But Jasmin Dizdar's debut deserves better than vanishing unseen to a graveyard slot on Channel 4. For all its occasional lapses of drive and intelligibility, Beautiful People (the 1999 Un Certain Regard winner at Cannes) is an ambitious and rewarding watch.
A Serb and Croat scrap on a London bus, a doctor falls for a refugee, a BBC war reporter starts cracking up, a football hooligan parachutes accidentally into the heart of the conflict... Beautiful People slip-slides between characters like a low budget Short Cuts.
Dizdar's debut may lack the polish of Altman's multi-structured classic. However, there are enough compensations (a cast which is tuned into his bittersweet sensibilities; a narrative with a deep grounding in emotional reality) to keep audiences satisfied.