Biutiful (2010)



Alejandro González Iñárritu


Mexico | Spain


Javier Bardem, Maricel Álvarez, Hanaa Bouchaib, Guillermo Estrella, Diaryatou Daff, Taisheng Cheng, Nasser Saleh, Eduard Fernández, Cheikh Ndiaye, Jin Luo


Uxbal (Javier Bardem), single father of two children, finds his life in chaos as he is forced to deal with his life in order to escape the heat of crime in underground Barcelona, to break with the depressed and abusive mother of his children (Maricel Álvarez) and to regain spiritual insight in his life as he is diagnosed with terminal cancer.


I finally watched this highly acclaimed film, Iñárritu's fourth film, the first after the completion of his death trilogy with Guillermo Arriaga and his first Spanish language film since Amores perros, and never before have I seen a film more aptly title.

Hard to watch, raw, and sad, Biutiful is an intense drama capable of engaging and upsetting the viewer, that portrays the ugly beauty of life.

Iñárritu, who also wrote the screenplay, escaped from the self-imposed puzzle narrative structure that made him famous only to demonstrate his ability to maintain equally high the pace of the film, even with a linear yet deep and complex story, and despite the 138 minutes.

There is nothing beautiful or pleasing in this story that follows the life of Uxbal, in one of the biggest, most cheerful, and festive cities of Europe, Barcelona, which plays a very important role in the story. Only this time is not the postcard Barcelona we see, but the sad reality of the outskirts of this beautiful city, the reality of Spanish favelas, a reality made of suffering, hunger, and poverty.

In addition to the social drama of this contemporary Spain, Iñárritu masterfully succeeded developing another drama, Uxbal's private drama. This man comes face to face with his life, and death.

The only beautiful thing about the film is the father-sons relationship - the scene where Uxbal and his daughter Ana hug is one of the most poignant in recent years, and really shows the fear of death.

Inarritu's direction is perfect, and Rodrigo Prieto's cinematography wonderfully captures Uxbal's emotions on screen and the ugly beauty of this Barcelona.

Now I must mention that Javier Bardem was robbed of an Oscar. After The Sea Inside and No Country for Old Men, he gives yet another outstanding performance, filled with humanity. Uglier and greyish, Bardem not only carries the whole film, but also seems to carry the weight both of emotional and psychical pain. Theatrical actress Maricel Álvarez does a wonderful job in her first film, playing Marambra, Uxbal's wife, in a very convincingly way.

However, I have a complaint: the subplots. While I appreciated the one with Senegalese immigrants, and the Chinese one, as they are crucial in the character's redemption, I didn't understand the purpose of the gay relationship between the two Chinese.


Ana: Dad! How do you spell "beautiful"?
Uxbal: Like that, like it sounds.

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