Writer-director Jasmin Dizdar's nimble kaleidoscopic melodrama Beautiful People derives much of its power from his distinct cross-cultural vantage point: He's a London émigré raised in the former Yugoslavia. Taking cues from both the British social realist tradition and the crazed kinetic whimsy of Emir Kusturica (Underground), Dizdar studies how each country perceives and infects the other, revealing the new face of London in the wake of his homeland's civil war. Though its title seems ironic at first, Beautiful People is boundless in its optimism, growing increasingly contrived as it progresses, steering the messy lives of about 25 interconnected characters in the same hopeful direction. Dizdar's sensitivity pays off in a touching thread about a nurse (Charlotte Coleman) from an upper-crust British family who falls for a Bosnian immigrant (Edin Dzandzanovic) haunted by his participation in war crimes. He also displays a gift for light absurdist comedy: In the film's most satisfying vignette, a young soccer hooligan and heroin addict (Danny Nussbaum) passes out near a U.N. cargo plane and is accidentally dropped into a war zone, where his stash is put to practical use. There are many other stories of varying quality, but as lively and skillfully orchestrated as it is on the whole, Beautiful People adds up to curiously little, limited in large part by Dizdar's narrow view of humanity. In his enthusiasm to resolve the cultural differences between his former and present home, his disparate characters are all tossed into the same flavorless, homogenous soup.

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