Unmade Beds Movie Review
Axl (Tielve) is a 20-year-old from Spain in London to find his father (Lintern), who he can't remember at all. Actually, he can't remember much, and after each drunken night out he wakes up in a strange bed. Eventually he finds himself living in a squat with Hannah (Winter) and Mike (Goldberg). Another resident, Vera (Francois), has come to London to forget her ex (Brzezicki) and move on. She meets a charming guy who calls himself X-ray Man (Huisman), but she's reluctant to let him into her life.
As with his first feature Glue, writer-director Dos Santos uses an intimate cheeky-sexy tone while blurring boundaries and expectations. The cinematography vividly puts us into the minds of both Axl and Vera, who don't actually meet until a climactic moment later on. We see events through their eyes, with journal-style narration in native languages, complete with telling flashbacks and wonderfully imaginative filmmaking. A seaside escape with Vera and X-ray Man is gorgeously assembled and played.
The cast is raw and earthy, giving a strong authenticity to the multicultural setting. Tielve and Francois acutely capture the youthful yearning, hopefulness and fear with the camera often right in their faces. They're always believable, simply because the film lets them create organic characters who are honest and complex. Meanwhile, Huisman and Goldberg provide a nice counterpoint as two young men who are just a little more settled and confident, but still open to new experiences.
The tentative connections between these people is utterly riveting, since the scruffy, edgy approach makes it impossible to predict. But about halfway through, the quirky indie song score hints that this film has a more professional pedigree than it first seemed (the musical approach, while fresh and sparky, seems directly lifted from Juno). And after the improv-style build-up, the story elements coalesce in ways that hint at too much script-polishing. But even if the finale's a little too structured and sentimental, it's still an enjoyable and fiercely inventive film.