A Beautiful Life

Social realism commercially coated by a stripper-club backdrop will confuse audiences and dampen prospects.

CANNES -- The meanest streets of Los Angeles are rendered at their grimiest in this ironically titled market movie.

Set smack dab in the dark shadows of Wilshire's skyscrapers, this smartly scoped film focuses on the underbelly of the city. Stylistically, it's a mixed bag: It's both a stark look at survival in the inner city, and a titillation ditty backdropped by the steamy gyrations of a strip club. As such, this New Films International production will be a tough sell.

Centered on a Valley runaway who has escaped the grasp of an abusive father, the narrative follows the teenage girl's struggle for survival. She's stepped off the bus into a world of pimps, thugs, illegals, winos and predators. Fortunately, through the good graces of a stripper with a heart-of-gold, she finds shelter with the strip club's illegal kitchen worker.

Although director Alejandro Chomski has crafted a hard-edged social statement, that vision is muddled by the story's generic histrionics and pat predictability.

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