MPI // 2009 // 97 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Daryl Loomis // March 3rd, 2011
Bright lights, lost souls.
"'It's a tricky question,' you used to say. That it's an illusion to pretend that we can bridge the gap between your thoughts and mine. For you, every person is like a planet. And two different planets can never become one. Two people together will always be one plus one. I preferred to think of us as bubbles. Because when they touch, they merge into one another."
A London warehouse filled with young and gorgeous drifters becomes a place of self-discovery when Axl (Fernando Tielve, The Devil's Backbone) arrives in town looking for a place to crash. He's here to track down his father, who abandoned him two decades ago. Meanwhile, another lovely squatter named Vera (Déborah Françoise, L'Enfant) is scared to death of commitment, so much that she won't even tell her new boyfriend her name; she wants love but won't grab it. Axl and Vera wander London and this warehouse, oblivious of one another, but if they could only connect, they might find what they seek.
The plotlines of Axl and Vera finally do converge, but that story resolution doesn't do much to make up for the meandering display of ennui in Unmade Beds. Cinema is surely no stranger to disaffected youth, and the promise of hot young squatters is nothing to dismiss, but compelling characters have to come from somewhere, and writer/director Alexis Dos Santos (Glue) doesn't do nearly enough to make the characters work within the sparse story to bring the audience to a place they can care.
As much as I've forgiven similar movies for similar problems in the past, Dos Santos just couldn't make me care about Unmade Beds. It's not the performances, which are often quite good. There are only a few actors with any significant screen time, but each of them is perfectly believable and sometimes even charming. It's that what they're told to do that is monotonous and mostly lame. After he finds the guy working as a real estate agent, Axl poses as a potential client to find stuff out about him. I can feel for Axl and his paternal search, but every day is exactly the same. He puts on a schoolboy jacket he thinks make him look like a businessman, meets his father to look at a flat, asks him some vague questions, and then go home depressed because he's no closer to a connection. The next day, rinse and repeat. Vera has much less defined story and seems more part of the atmosphere; she has some fun and seems really sweet, but doesn't do a whole lot. She wouldn't need to, I suppose, if the whole thing went somewhere, but the film is as stagnant as could be.
MTI, under the IFC banner, has done a fine job with Unmade Beds. The film has a decidedly dark and grainy look, which comes through just fine in the transfer. The flesh tones are warm and the black levels are deep and rich; it's not crystal clear, but it captures the feel of the film. The sound, too, is more than adequate. It's mostly dialog, but it comes through very clearly in the center channel, even when the actors are at their mumbliest, while the rock soundtrack makes good use of the surround speakers. The only extra is a trailer, but the technical work here is better than you often see from such indie work, if only the film itself was more worth watching.
While box copy rarely reflects what you'll actually find in a film, the final statement on the DVD package is unintentionally accurate: "With driving pop music, nights of ecstatic dancing, and mornings spent untangling threesomes, Unmade Beds is a dazed and confused tale of youthful possibility." This film is truly dazed and confused, though only in a construction sense. Most importantly, it had plenty of potential with its good performances and sexy premise, but all of that possibility remains decidedly unmet.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 97 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated