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Marina Antunes [Celluloid 01.12.10] United Kingdom movie review news comedy drama

Year: 2009
Directors: Alexis Dos Santos
Writers: Alexis Dos Santos, Marianela Maldonado
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Marina Antunes
Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Not to be confused with Nicholas Barker’s 1997 film with which it shares its title, Alexis Dos Santos’ Unmade Beds is a modern story of romance and self discovery.

Axl has a bad habit of drinking too much and waking up in strange beds which he, more often than not, shares with even stranger individuals. He’s landed in London and is searching out his English father, a man he’s never met. Vera is a girl in search of companionship, something with no strings attached. The two have ended up sharing a London warehouse with a group of other individuals but their paths have never crossed but they will, you’re sure of it.

Santo’s film is an interesting beast overcrowded with colourful characters who weave their way in and out of the central narratives as Axl and Vera conduct their own personal searches and although they don’t immediately meet, it’s clear that at some point, contact will be made and it’s the longing to see the duo finally come together that moves the film forward.

This plot thrust isn’t the only thing the film has going for it. If nothing else, it’s a fascinating look at the youth of today and there’s a feeling of 60s flower child/free love running through Unmade Beds. Folks are openly accepting of others with few questions, sex is an activity to be freely enjoyed but what Santos’ captures exceptionally well is the multicultural aspect of life in a major metropolis. The warehouse, for example, houses individuals from everywhere (the protagonists themselves are travellers with Axl hailing from Spain and Vera from France) but there’s a very real sense of community and accepting. This is the reality of today’s modern world where nearly everyone shares a common language (to an extent) and travel is easier than it has been before. Where in the past films like Babel and Traffic used multi-threaded stories to set up this idea of worldwide connectivity and shared experiences, Santos manages to acquire a similar feeling by narrowing the focus of his story to one location and two individuals. It’s an impressive achievement.

The film’s other major appeal is its look and feel. Cinematographer Jakob Ihre doesn’t simply beautifully capture London and the lives of these individuals but he manages to do so with a dreamlike quality that suggest a world where anything can happen and though it’s not all good, the film’s look always suggests that there’s something better around the corner. Perhaps the film’s most powerful moment is the first meeting between Vera and Axl which is a little bizarre but breathtaking, the sort of image you’ll remember 10 years from now. Unmade Beds’ gorgeous look is accompanied by a stellar soundtrack which brings a youthful energy to the screen. From the first track featuring the throaty sounds of Mary and the Boy to Daniel Johnston’s “My Life is Starting Over Again,” it’s a soundtrack chalk full of great pop/rock sounds that’ll have your foot tapping.

The script and story start to wear thin sixty minutes in but it’s never really the selling point of Unmade Beds. It’s everything else (the music, the look, the undoubtedly forthcoming romance) that move the film along and make it worthwhile. It’s this which also marks Santos’ true talent: a young director who has a unique and eye opening take on modern 20somethings and who is willing to share that insight in an interesting manner.

Watching Unmade Beds reminded me a little of my first experience with Reality Bites and how it captured, in a nutshell, what it was like to be young and searching for love in the early 90s; except Santos’ film is a little more accomplished and a little less accessible.

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Anonymous (12 years ago) Reply

If you liked Unmade Beds then look at this:
For only 5 euros you can become a co-producer of Alexis' next project! For 25 euros you even have your name on the credits!

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