“Unmade Beds” twines together two journeys of pretty young drifters, Axl (Fernando Tielve) and Vera (Déborah François), gone to ground in modern-day East London. He’s a towheaded, bright-eyed little Spanish twink; she’s a Frenchwoman tentatively abandoning one love for another whose name she refuses to learn. He’s come to London to find his English father, he claims, and couch surf-safaris his way into an immense squat the bright chaos of which looks like a Redmoon Theater production hit by a bomb, so sprawling the pair don’t realize they’re both living there. They’re artists who haven’t found their art, unless you count their wanderings. Hipster quirk, yes, but Argentinean director Alexis Dos Santos’ exquisitely shot second feature is a genuine charmer, moving in and out of focus like emotional liqueur. These characters are made of real stuff. Like Jonás Cuarón’s little-seen coming-of-age “Year of the Nail,” “Unmade Beds” makes cost-effective, poetry-heightened use of montages of still photographs, and like two still unreleased American movies, Ry Russo-Young’s “You Wont Miss Me” and Bradley Rust Grey’s “The Exploding Girl,” Dos Santos uses a heightened digital palette to brighten and heighten and to stay very, very close to characters who don’t yet understand that the bleary, febrile moments they’re finding and feeling will define themselves. The sexy bits are tense, vulnerable, believable and sometimes lightly surreal. It’s playful, grotty Utopia. 98m. (Ray Pride)
“Unmade Beds” opens Friday at Facets.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His multimedia history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” will be published soon. Previews of the project are on Twitter and on Instagram as Ghost Signs Chicago. More photography on Instagram.