Biutiful – a review
Thanks to Mad Man Entertainment I was lucky enough to attend an advanced screening of Biutiful, nominated for “Best Foreign Language Film” and “Best Actor”, at this year’s Academy Awards.
The nominations are well deserved. Javier Bardem delivers a powerful performance as Uxbal, the film’s protaginist. He’s a loving father and a husband to an often unfaithful and unstable wife. He also happens to be a physic medium, who helps the dead pass on as well as an underground businessman with a heart. He leads hardly a normal existence and director, Alejandro González Iñárritu (Babel, 21 Grams) brings together all parts of Uxbal’s complex personality and life, beautifully.
Biutiful is set in Barcelona’s lonely back streets, its desolated neighbourhoods that are a far cry from the vibrant Gaudi architecture and tourist filled beaches we may associate with Spain. In the opening minutes of the film we discover Uxbal is sick. In fact, he is dying from inoperable prostrate cancer.
The film offers an interesting and compelling look into the human condition and the transience of life. As Uxbal struggles to comes to terms with his mortality, we discover more about him. When he’s not delivering messages to the families of people who have passed on or essentially acting as a single father to his two children, Uxbal manages a group of Senegalese and Chinese immigrants. The groups of immigrants either make or sell counterfeit purses and live in appaling conditions in local sweatshops and slums. Uxbal is essentially the middle man or fixer, who supplies the goods to the African hawkers and pays off the police. However, unlike many of Uxbal’s underground colleagues, he genuinely cares about his workers. Uxbal tries to reconcile ethics, morality and do good by his workers in a place where there is no soul. However, this does not always turn out the way he intends.
Biutiful is really about one man’s spiritual and emotional journey of redemption and acceptance as he comes to grips with his own mortality as well as fatherhood, love, crime and guilt.
Although the facets of the story may seem varied and diverse, they come together assisted by some haunting, yet compelling cinematography and superb performances from the cast.
Have you seen Biutiful? What did you think of the film?