- Director:Alejandro González Iñárritu
- Cast:Maricel Álvarez , Hanaa Bouchaib , Javier Bardem
- Release Date:March 24, 2011
- Running time:148 minutes
- Film Worth:$19.00
- FILMINK rates movies out of $20 - the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth
While it’s dark and depressing, this is an emotional ride well worth taking.
What a film! Javier Bardem has always been impressive and convincing, but he's never been better than this, and neither has writer-director Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu (Amores Perros, Babel, 21 Grams). Bardem plays Uxbal, a deeply conflicted Barcelona man who adores his two children, and tries to be a decent human being, yet is involved in various exploitative criminal activities. He seems to be psychic, and has a rugged damaged charisma. But the crucial fact about him, as we and he soon learn, is that he's dying of cancer.
If that sounds depressing, well, yes it is, and indeed none of the characters in this saga are abidingly happy: the pendulum swings between a narrow arc of humdrum daily adversity and sudden accidental tragedy. But it all makes for riveting cinema. Uxbal struggles to cope with his manic-depressive estranged wife, Marambra (a distressingly believable Maricel Alvarez), while helping out a Senegalese immigrant, and dealing successfully with Chinese "colleagues" who make him look relatively ethical. All these machinations unfold in a distinctly non-picture-postcard Barcelona; it's a vision of backstreet low life which recalls the visual poetry of Martin Scorsese and David Lynch, but is stripped of all their heroics and romanticism. And if Uxbal's present is bleak and his future almost non-existent, his past is dominated by the melancholy truth that he barely remembers his mother and never met his father.
Biutiful is deeply moving, beautifully shot and lit, immaculately acted, seedily atmospheric, and has an inspired instrumental soundtrack. But perhaps the most extraordinary thing about the film is that it states the obvious - that life is rotten for many people, and that mortality is scary and depressing - and makes that feel like a revelation. Don't miss it.