Big Brother will not only be watching us, he'll even be inside our heads.

According to “Metropia,” first-time Swedish-Turkish helmer Tarik Saleh’s dystopic animated feature, Big Brother will not only be watching us, he’ll even be inside our heads. The good news, based on the evidence here, is that he sometimes takes coffee breaks. Indeed, a certain slackness is the pic’s defining characteristic: The characters at first seem photorealistic, but their faces barely move. There are good, basic sci-fi ideas in the script, but they’re not satisfyingly developed. Suspicion grows that this tale, which frequently unfolds on subway trains, will stay mainly underground and earn the majority of its coin from ancillary.

In the year 2024, lack of oil has spurred the creation of a pan-European underground rail network, called Metropia. When call-center drone Roger Olafsson (voiced by Vincent Gallo) starts hearing an unfamiliar voice in his head, he deviates from his usual routine and pursues beautiful blonde Nina (Juliette Lewis), who leads him into possibly terrorist-related trouble. The animation technique oddly blends hyper-detailed textures, particularly skin and hair, with stiff character movements, making it wearisome to watch over feature length, especially given the relentlessly washed-out gray-blue color palette. Other tech credits are pro.

Metropia

Sweden-Norway-Denmark

Production

An Atmo presentation of a Film i Vast, Sandrew Metronome, Swedish Television SVT (Sweden)/Tordenfilm (Norway)/Zentropa Entertainments (Denmark) production, in association with Canal Plus, NRK, YLE, with the support of Eurimages, Media, SFI, DFI, NFI, NFTF, Film Gavleborg. (International sales: Trust Nordisk, Hvidovre.) Produced by Kristina Aberg. Co-producers, Mikael Olson, Eric Vogel, Gunnar Carlsson, Thomas Eskilsson, Birgitta Holmar. Directed by Tarik Saleh. Screenplay, Stig Larsson, Fredrik Edin, Saleh, based on an idea by Saleh, Martin Hultman, Edin. (Color); editor, Johan Soderberg; music, Krister Linder; art director, Hultman; lead animator, Isak Gjertsen; director of animation, Christian Ryltenius. Reviewed at Venice Film Festival (Critics' Week), Sept. 2, 2009. English dialogue. Running time: 86 MIN.

With

Vincent Gallo, Stellan Skarsgard, Udo Kier, Alexander Skarsgard, Juliette Lewis, Sofia Helin.
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