It sucks to be poor. Psycho. Drunk. Slutty. The parent of unwanted children. Everything else bad.
Diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer, Uxbal (Javier Bardem) — a divorced father raising two children — is determined to atone for his life as a black marketeer that unfolds in the slums of Barcelona, Spain.
This was one of those foreign films that came out during the Oscar season that sparked my interest but I never got to see. Thank the lord once again for Netflix!
This is the fourth film from writer/director Alejandro González Iñárritu, who is an extremely talented film-maker. The movie is called “Biutiful” but everything in it is very ugly and were living in those claustrophobic slums in Barcelona with people trying so hard to find beauty in their lives and I really did feel every element here in this character study that really does just take you into it’s story and doesn’t let you go. I think this film also gets really depressing, especially by the end, but something I at least appreciated about this film is it’s very artfully done, and almost never gets too preachy.
Some however, will actually start to be grossed out by a lot of the stuff that they see here. Eating ice cream with your dirty hands, the whole city’s having a bad hair day, and pissing blood all seem realistic because it’s the under-belly of Barcelona but it’s almost more disgusting than a film like Slumdog Millionaire. I didn’t mind this as much as I would have thought, but there are moments here that this film will make you gag at what you see. Also, there is a lot of preachy moments here that seemed like an investigated news report on the effects on globalization and illegal immigrants in foreign countries. Some of this worked, some of it didn’t but the fact is that the story held me in for as long as it did.
Javier Bardem actually got nominated for an Oscar for this, which happened completley out-of-nowhere, and I’m really glad that he actually did. Bardem, as usual, is such a terrific actor and I haven’t really seen him in his actual native tongue but he’s powerful, charismatic, and he shows goodheartedness as Uxbal although he has a problem letting people into his world. Just with a look in his eyes, Bardem is able to convey any type of emotion his character is feeling and every scene Bardem gets to show off his true dramatic depth, he does and it was just about perfect to say the least. Another great performance comes from Maricel Álvarez as Uxbal’s bi-polar wife. She’s great because she just has the right blend of bohemian fun and over-the-edge dangerous that glues you into her character as well, even though you can never tell what she’s going to do next.
Consensus: Biutiful is a disgusting film that gets preachy at times and will leave many people sick after watching it, but the story is engrossing and you feel for this character, mainly because Bardem is just so amazing here that it’s hard not to stand behind this guy. See it once, and say you have, but never feel the need to actually watch it again.