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A man who hears voices in his head discovers he's not crazy, but something far worse is going on in this animated sci-fi drama from director Tarik Saleh. It's the year 2024, and the global oil supply ha finally bottomed out; poverty is widespread, and with automobiles no longer practical, a system of underground trains links most of the cities of Europe. Roger Olafsson (voice of Vincent Gallo) is a low-level office worker who spends his days toiling away in a telephone center and his night cooped up in a tiny flat. One day, Roger begins hearing a voice in his head; the voice tells Roger that it is his conscience, and that he should take a chance and approach Nina (voice of Juliette Lewis), a beautiful woman he's seen while riding the train. Roger decides to take the voice's advice, but it turns out that he's actually been hearing messages from Stefan (voice of Alexander Skarsgard), a functionary of the all-powerful Trexx Corporation, and he's not trying to start a romance by pairing Roger and Nina, but tie the unsuspecting telephone worker into a plot involving a gang of terrorists. Also featuring the voice talents of Udo Kier and Stellan Skarsgard, Metropia was screened as part of the "Critics' Week" program at the 2009 Venice International Film Festival. … More
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Critic Reviews for Metropia
Technically innovative but narratively moribund.
Metropia treads a well-worn Orwellian path (see: Brazil, 1985) but Tarik Saleh's debut compensates for the lack of narrative invention with stunning visuals.
Corporate conspiracy, urban alienation and mind control through shampoo are stirred up in Tarik Saleh's animated science fiction dystopia...
Audience Reviews for Metropia
If you think the present day is bad enough, then try 2024 when Roger is a drone in call center hell, Northern European Division. That's even before he goes home to his small apartment and his loveless marriage. And then there is the voice which keeps him up all hours. To make matters even worse, his bicycle is wrecked the following morning, forcing him to take the subway. On the way to work, to his great surprise, he spots a woman who looks like the spokesmodel for a popular brand of shampoo. Figuring he still has enough time to get to work, he gives into his inner stalker and follows her to Stalingrad(!?!).
First, "Metropia" has an intriguing visual style for an animated film, not only in mostly shades of grey with brief flashes of color, but also characters whose features are photorealistic while moving awkwardly. And like any self-respecting geek, I love a good dystopia. The problems arise out of a muddled plot and a need to make statements which go off in all directions at once.(For example, the game show is too openly cruel to be taken seriously.) Oddly enough, the story seems to have been written by people who have never ridden a subway in their lives, just observed it from a great distance and took pity on the poor souls who rely on it. For example, if one wanted to realistically critique the subway, then one would start with a definite sardine aesthetic and then move onto delays. For the majority of us who do ride mass transit every day, it is not so bad when we have something to distract us from the tedium which this movie was not so terribly helpful with yesterday.
This Swedish adult (not the type just coming to your mind) animated science-fiction movie is directed by Tarik Saleh. The interesting but very simplistic screenplay was written by Fredrik Edin, Stig Larsson, and Tarik Saleh after a story by Tarik Saleh, Fredrik Edin and Martin Hultman. I loved the animation technique which uses actual photographs been altered and heavily stylized in a computer program, to finally be animated. The visual style is inspired by the works of Terry Gilliam, Roy Andersson and Yuriy Norshteyn but it kept its originality.
I will say that Orwellian element are obvious in the story about terrifying Europe where the world is running out of oil, and a private underground network is created by joining all the various undergrounds together underneath Europe. The main character is Roger (Vincent Gallo) from Stockholm and he avoids the underground because he finds it disturbing. He uses a banned bicycle for transportation but soon things are starting to happen and he has no option but to use the underground. His problem is that sometimes when he is too near the transport network, he hears a strange voice in his head...
I liked the idea that ordinary people spotted on the streets were used as models for the characters. The main character Roger is based on a chef who worked at a restaurant in Stockholm where the Atmo (the developers of the story) employees were regulars, and Nina was found in a make-up store. Vincent Gallo accepted his part as the lead voice actor after having seen 30 seconds of finished animation as well as hearing that German actor Udo Kier, of whom Gallo was a fan, already was attached to the project.
As a movie I enjoyed it, even with the lack of effective narration, mainly because of the dark toned photography with a unique look and excellent collage of music, animation and suspense. Metropia has been awarded the prestigious "Future Film Festival Digital Award 2009" at the 66th Venice International Film Festival, recognized as "In perfect harmony with the story". I hope you'll have a chance to enjoy it.
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