The Intermittently Audacious NoBody's Perfect

"If I were cool about being disabled, I wouldn't be making this film," director Niko von Glasow tells a fellow "Thalidomide"—one of the thousands of middle-aged people born with defects derived from the once popular sedative—midway through NoBody's Perfect. Hoping to better understand his position as well as redefine conceptions of beauty, von Glasow, a wry, philosophical man with abnormally short arms and a self-described "grouchy soul," sets out to find 11 other children of Thalidomide to pose naked for a calendar shoot. Much of the film is devoted to the director's one-on-one discussions with the other subjects, which, despite von Glasow's no-nonsense questioning and the intriguing issues of identity he raises, are insufficiently curious to yield much more than superficial responses. There's no such problem with the central photo shoot. In a sequence at once provocative and liberating, the director confronts us with happily bared flesh that carries the double taint of age and deformity, as the clearly empowered subjects, used to being stared at, force others to see them on their own terms. Too bad von Glasow dissipates the effect with a tentative last-minute Michael Moore-lite gesture, the final mark of a slack, scattershot approach that ill serves the director's intermittently audacious film.

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