MARGINS ARE INEVITABLY places of great confusion. As its title implies, From the Edge of the City is a film obsessed with the culture of margins; with the effect of the journey from the fringe to the elusive center. Elliptically telling the tale of a scattered group of Kazakh immigrants in Athens, the film is centered on Sasha (Stathis Papadopoulos), a dim, barren 17-year-old adrift in a clichéd world of clubs, drugs, and dead intentions. Naturally, he is seduced by the neon ease of the seamy urban underbelly, and he of course makes the classic immigrant mistake of taking the easy road to success, prostituting himself, then accepting a job offer from his brutal cousin Giorgos (Dimitris Papoulidis) to pimp the bruised, blond Natasia (Theodora Tzimou).

From the ponderous opening sequence, in which Sasha and his gang rollerblade through the inky, crushed-glass light of an Athens night to the pulse of generic techno, we know all will come out badly. The film therefore wisely eschews plot for mood, employing a dizzying array of devices--stop motion, jump cuts, first-person subjective shots, and still imagery--to build a fractured narrative landscape. It is a conceit that almost manages not to annoy. A first-person interview with Sasha scattered throughout the film keeps us grounded, but then the filmmakers clutter it all up all over again, and after a while, the sexy shots and energetic editing all lump together to lose all meaning.

The film is somewhat redeemed by the performances of its leads. The dozen or so boys who make up the core gang of the film are consistently compelling, adequately aimless, and believably lost, and Papadopoulos is especially effective as Sasha. But in the end, the film tells us nothing new. The story is old before it has begun, and the rich possibilities afforded by the marginal are left unexplored. The film thus feels like a sculpture of confusion as opposed to being about confusion. The pallor of the city glows dully on, and the story stutters forward toward its obvious end.