Unmade Beds

Unmade Beds


Reviewed by: George Williamson

Axl is the quintessential mop-haired, gap-year student, having exchanged the sun-drenched streets of his Madrid home for London's grimy avenues. He's in search of excitement, sex, adventure, and an estranged father that he never knew. Vera is a melancholy French girl, the end of a relationship dominating her psyche; she's looking for something more - a real connection with someone; she wants to avoid stumbling back into doomed romance. Their stories intertwine through their shared accommodation - a bohemian party squat, filled with artists living for music, drunken revelry and experimentation - a place to escape from the bourgeois grind and really live.

At first glance, Alex Dos Santos' second feature resembles Felix Klapsisch's L'Auberge Espagnole (Pot Luck) and its cast of multinational travellers and parallel narratives, however, Unmade Beds eschews comic entertainment and instead aspires to Beat poignance. Unfortunately this voyage into Kerouac territory comes across as far too friendly to be plausible. The London squat is too clean and cheerful. There are no creepy dealers, crusty clubheads or psychotic junkies, instead it's filled with trendy teenagers living in self-imposed poverty having life experiences. It strives for profundity but instead grates irritatingly. Vera's story is somewhat interesting - she develops a relationship with no names, no numbers, just a time and a place to meet - but Axl's search for his elusive father is generic and uninspiring.

Lo-fi filmmaking can deliver an unrivalled sense of intimacy with onscreen events, as shown with the rise of the “mumblecore” movie, however, to be successful in taking a viewer somewhere outwith their personal experience it demands a compelling plot, natural dialogue and fantastic acting - go and see Humpday, for instance. Unmade Beds has some excellent drunk performances – particularly from Déborah François and Fernando Tielve in the central roles – some extremely convincing party and gig footage and a bleeding edge indie soundtrack, however, the stone-faced sincerity, hipper than thou characters and contrived film school cinematography are its downfall.

It's not always clear what makes the difference between a film that is a triumphant piece of low-fi cinema and one which is a pretentious mess. Unmade Beds staggers drunkenly between the two.

Reviewed on: 29 Jun 2009
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Two young foreigners find romance in the vibrant, artistic underground of London's East End.
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Director: Alexis Dos Santos

Writer: Alexis Dos Santos

Starring: Fernando Tielve, Déborah François, Michiel Huisman, Iddo Goldberg, Richard Lintern, Katia Winter, Leonardo Brzezicki, Alexis Dos Santos, Lucy Tillet, Al Weaver

Year: 2009

Runtime: 93 minutes

Country: UK

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