Free Radicals

on July 23, 2004 by Jordan Reed
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Despite the hippie-flavored, upbeat implications of its title, "Free Radicals" is definitely neither the dope nor date movie of the summer. It begins with a plane crash and proceeds to a car crash, should you require proof of that statement. Things don't get much cheerier, resulting in a morose tale connecting the shattered lives of numerous Austrians, including recent widower Andreas (Georg Friedrich) and his daughter, his mistress--his deceased wife's closest friend Andrea (Ursula Strauss)--and Kai (Dominik Hartel), the teenager responsible for the woman's death. Throw in some unrequited love, high-school angst and sordid sexual relationships and--presto!--instant depression.

Like its similarly well-acted relative, Ulrich Seidl's "Dog Days," the ceaseless upset of "Free Radicals" starts to ring false the same way vapidly upbeat mainstream fare does. Both portray life as black or white, not in more realistic shades of gray. Aside from a few brief glimmers of hope or happiness, director Barbara Albert piles her compilation of abject misery a bit too high. Starring Ursula Strauss, Georg Friedrich and Kathrin Resetarits. Directed and written by Barbara Albert. Produced by Antonin Svoboda and Martin Gschlacht. A Kino release. Drama. Austrian-language; subtitled. Unrated. Running time: 120 min

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