The Imperialists Are Still Alive!

Film
3 out of 5 stars
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Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

Israel has invaded Lebanon, an old friend has been mysteriously abducted, and the feds have been talking to the neighbors. It's all gotten Asya (Bouchez) down, but not enough to keep her away from landing a plum gallery show or frequenting the Manhattan boho-socialite scene. A French import of Middle Eastern and Balkan descent, she's both insider and outsider, privileged and paranoid---the kind of politically minded artist who dons a hijab while flaunting her pubes. She shacks up with a dashing, equally entitled Mexican grad student (De Tavira), who becomes her partner in dusk-hour debauchery and stranger-in-a-strange-land anxiety.

Like kindred class chronicler Whit Stillman (who cameos as a creep pogoing to "Psycho Killer"), filmmaker Zeina Durra doesn't feel obliged to either make us respect her characters or judge them. Such poker-faced ambiguity can be an asset when exploring the lifestyles of the rich and aimless, but becomes a problem once it extends to storytelling that's less artfully diffuse than dramatically uncertain. One listless party and woozy cab ride gives way to another; little of note ends up happening or being said (even at his driest, Whit always had distinctive wit), and few true characters emerge from the cloud of furred collars and man-scarves. Durra has New York's contemporary cultural particulars down cold, but some narrative heat would also be nice.

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