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Dare to Follow Uxbal's Many-Sided Journey
jzappa5 May 2011
Inarritu's three previous films---Amores Perros, 21 Grams and Babel---are classified together as the Death Trilogy, as they each depict the exponential impact of fatal or near-fatal occurrences in the interconnected existence of separate lives. They are each epic, punch-packing dramatic powerhouses. But now I see he still had much more to say on the literally infinite subject of death. And he says it with Biutiful, a purely experiential film that pierces through the heart with the acuity of a stingray barb.

The narrative here is a rail tunnel of raw, sprawling intimacy set in an overpopulated, decaying Barcelona ghetto. We follow Uxbal, and we're not entirely sure what he does. Neither does anybody, or him really. Much of the things he does are criminal, mainly mitigating between corrupt police and illegal aliens, with often catastrophic results. He is also a dedicated father to two young children whose mother, his ex-wife, is a wreck of alcohol, bipolarity and promiscuity, and worse, knows her inability to control herself and is in a quicksand of bettering herself. Uxbal also has prostate cancer, which is rapidly spreading. Also, he is internally connected with the afterlife. He doesn't see visions, he doesn't clutch shoulders and see the manner of one's impending death. He purely senses a recently deceased spirit in the room with him. He can do nothing about their situation. He just senses them.

Uxbal's ability to feel the presence of departed souls is portrayed like a sort of capacity to hear noise at the volume at which, say, a dog could only be expected to hear it. The film's setting and happenings are a jerky, spontaneous, lateral rush of urban business, like the sight, sound and fury made by the living to distract themselves from the silence of death. Each scene seems to be a concordance of extroverted behavior and internal behavior, both with equal fervor, yet both on either side of some two-way mirror. Only those characters, namely Uxbal, whose conflicts and dilemmas are constantly internalized, can hear that silence. Eventually, his daughter does as well, and becomes the closest to him, in what one might go as far as to consider the film's climax, a bear-like hug they both know is as fleeting as every other action in this desperate commotion of a life they lead.

Iñárritu intends to drain us. Physically, internally, emotionally. And he cleans out his total cinematic armory to do so. And like death, that is both a blessing and a curse. For however harrowing it is, Biutiful exalts us with the chance to see soul bare, through Javier Bardem's performance as Uxbal. Watching Bardem absorb, involve and ultimately possess a many-sided role like Uxbal's is a singular delicacy, and a complete wonder. His eyes speak agonizing tomes. He hauls from an unfathomably mysterious spring of passion, grief, and who knows what else.

One might be able to delineate that Bardem renders a tragic individual as a fading Barcelona forager who deals in illegal immigrants and connects with the deceased. But every now and then, a story materializes, conveyed in a way that is so sprawling, so comprehensive, that no one premise or implication can classify it. Attempting to definitely describe it limits something that offers the utmost magnitude of whatever an actor's, a filmmaker's, and viewer's, understanding. That is what makes Biutiful so precious.
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One of the BEST PIX for 2010
isotope43428 December 2010
I must say... I watched this movie twice. At first brush... I couldn't quite get past the pain and heaviness of the film... and at second screening, I really got to enjoy the (biutiful) visual metaphors that the director wanted to paint for us. It is indeed grim... and human. Like life, and perhaps a reflection of these days, not everything ends up happily ever after... we all are surviving each day in our own ways. This slice of family life, in a small quarter of Barcelona, is not glossed over and prettied up like most Hollywood films that we've slowly grown to despise (I know I don't speak for everyone). This is not the film that you go to to escape from reality... it's reality facing right back at you. It paints a perspective on the lives of those living on the frayed edges of our society, in every part of the world. For me, I think it is a pity that none of the Big Six picked it up for wider distribution. And that's the sad note for today's American cinema.
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Biutiful offers many touches of hope
Howard Schumann3 March 2011
"Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light" – Dylan Thomas

Nominated for an Oscar for both Best Foreign Film and Best Actor (Javier Bardem), Alejandro Inarritu's Biutiful is a story about those who live on the margins: Sengalese immigrants, Chinese sweatshop workers, small-time criminals, and corrupt cops who feed at the trough. Set in the seedy back streets of Barcelona, Spain, Biutiful (copying a child's spelling of the word) is not only about fear and degradation but also about faith in the possibility of redemption. The film not only explores the pain caused by globalization and human trafficking but also delves into the mystery and contradictions of life in which beauty and misery can exist side by side. It is not always pleasant to watch but it is an honest and often poetic film in which there are no stock characters. Even the worst of them are three-dimensional human beings caught in a tangled web of circumstances.

Magnificently performed by Bardem, Uxbal works as a middle man, finding jobs on construction sites for undocumented aliens from China and Africa, and supplying goods to illegal street vendors. He must deal not only with the illegal activities he has chosen to be a part of, but with his own torments - a wife (Maricel Alvarez) who is a prostitute and suffers from bi-polar disease, his two small children, Ana and Mateo (Hanaa Bouchaib and Guillermo Estrella) who long for stability and love, and a diagnosis of cancer that gives him only a few months to live. Uxbal is a character of contradictions, caught between his willingness to do what it takes to survive, even if it means going outside the law, and his love for his family and concern for the immigrants. These contradictions do not always make sense but lend his character a lifelike reality. He is also a spiritual medium who speaks with the dead or dying who are crossing over and provides comforting messages to those left behind (characteristically for a fee).

The film is shot by Rodrigo Prieto with a hand-held camera that enhances a feeling of intimacy. In the opening scene, Uxbal is seen in a snowy forest with his grandfather who left Spain for Mexico, another connection between Uxbal and the spirit world. This scene takes on more meaning by the end of the film. Inarritu throws many people and many situations into the mix, perhaps too many and the subplots do not always gel. There is Uxbal's brother Tito (Eduard Fernandez) who is involved with drugs and strip joints and sleeps with Uxbal's wife Marambra, a Sengalese family Ekweme and Ige (Cheijh Ndiave and Diaryatou Daff) living in Spain illegally, and the relationship of two gay Chinese criminals Hai and Liwei (Cheng Tai Shen and Luo Jin).

When the police arrest his friend, Ekweme, Uxbal promises to look after his wife Ige and their infant son Samuel and Ige takes on the role of his nanny, much to the delight of the children. As Uxbal's health begins to fail, his ties to the crime bosses come asunder, and his relationship with his family reaches a breaking point, he turns to the shaman Bea (Ana Wagener) to seek guidance, ask for forgiveness, and strengthen his connection to the other side. While Uxbal is not the reincarnation of St. Francis of Assisi and has contributed to human suffering, he seeks redemption in the love that he provides for his children, his patience with his wife's condition, and his attempts to reach out and protect the exploited.

As Inarritu has said, "Even if darkness seems to be everywhere, Biutiful offers many touches of hope. I'd even say it's my most optimistic film. Uxbal's character is full of light. He puts a lot into organizing his life, helping his children, loving other people." To paraphrase Walt Whitman, "If you have patience and indulgence towards people, reexamine all you have done, dismiss what insults your very soul, your flesh shall become a great poem." With whatever dignity he has left and after much resistance, Uxbal comes to terms with his own mortality, helping him to move beyond guilt and despair to confirm the beauty and preciousness of life.
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The Ugly Beauty of Life
tigerfish5027 October 2010
"Biutiful" is a sublime and intense epic - and possibly the best film of the year by a long way. Even though the setting is very different, the film shares themes with "American Beauty", and it succeeds in creating something close to a modern myth. It tells the story of Uxbal, who is a tough but loving single father of two young children, separated from his self-destructive bi-polar wife, Marambra. He scrapes a living in the backstreet black economy of Barcelona, where he operates as a middleman for those who exploit illegal immigrant labor. In addition to his dubious worldly talents, Uxbal possesses the psychic gift to convey messages from the recently deceased to their grieving relatives - and sometimes he compromises his principles by accepting payment for this service. Uxbal's discordant way of life reflects the essential human condition - trapped between the spiritual and material worlds - and when he learns that he is terminally ill with cancer, it seems as if his body must be manifesting his inner conflict. After his doctor informs him of his imminent death, Uxbal begins searching for a trustworthy person to raise his two children after he dies - and "Biutiful" tells of his struggle to put his affairs in order and accomplish this apparently impossible task while dark forces throw obstacles in his path. Those who have seen Inarritu's previous film "Amores Perros" will find themselves in familiar territory as Uxbal weaves his way through a labyrinth of mean streets and desperate people battling for survival. On the surface there is only the selfishness and brutality of a dog-eat-dog world, alleviated by brief moments of tenderness and self-sacrifice - but hidden amongst the chaos, one can perceive the age-old journey of the immortal hero towards liberation.
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Biutiful (2010)
chunky_lover_684 October 2010
Biutiful is a rather complex and interesting film, one that I have to admit is still sinking in as I'm still piecing together the dots of a rather sprawling storyline. Biutiful is a film that exists within the margins of society, it's everywhere we don't want to live, it's everyone we don't want to meet; it's all the struggles we'd rather not face and then some. As a result, the film is loud, violent, crazy, shameful, desperate, dirty and all other manner of words that describe the run down storefronts and apartments of the worst lived areas. Intelligently and bravely the films central idea is lost in the crowd, as obscured as the desires of its inhabitants, it's a confusing and chaotic place to be, but it works here where it wouldn't elsewhere. I would really like to watch this one again in hopes of better connecting the dots of a life lived on the fringe of society, entrenched in wrong doing, but not without its struggle with sensible moral. I think the idea behind Biutiful is that life, no matter how destitute and forgotten can be beautiful, it all depends on how you except and claim it.

Biutiful is the story of Uxbal, a shady man who's life is filled with turmoil, from admissions of an uncared for terminal illness, to unstable lovers, to unruly children, to spirits of which he can commune, to the lives of the underpaid migrant workers that he pimps out to whoever will employ them. It's easy for Uxbal to look back on his forty year existence and measure it in disappointments. But Uxbal is also a sensitive and caring man, who is able to make these admissions and in doing so take the steps to make his life it's own unique form of biutiful, but with a city more a crumbling metropolis and people who bar his progress with any step, can Uxbal truly bring some semblance of beauty to his life before it is painfully cut short, or will the darkness and depravity of the world around him swallow him and his desires whole, the answer is well worth discovering.

So I just can't say a whole lot with one viewing, but there are some things that stand out immediately. The film is several things, sad, funny, scary, creepy, intense, and as obvious as it seems, beautiful. Definitely some of the nicest camera work this year, yes it's sometimes shaky but you must consider the imagery it captures; some scenes are purely blissful for a film fan to witness. The editing is so great here that even though you know where the film is going its still exciting to get there. Javier Bardem gives a brilliant performance here, and it will take awhile for the viewer to except that Uxbal is an undesirable, but once you allow yourself to slip into his shoes, you begin to really get a sense of the man and his life. The seediness of the streets, and the strife and struggle of the humans in them are written all over this man, and Bardem really gives himself over to this character, warts and all, and gives us a brilliantly flawed person worthy of our attention. The rest of the cast is also well played, their stories contain their own levels of thoughtfulness and intrigue that both separates and connects to and from our protagonist intelligently. The script feels very human, there are no major verses of dialogue, people talk, feel and behave very naturally in this film, despite all coming from abnormal situations. Virtually no exposition on why this film exists, its meaning is wonderfully felt but not fully explained. The direction is so subtly smart that I was surprised to miss some of the most inventive and thought provoking foreshadowing I've seen in a film. Really just an all out creative and arresting affair, I'm trying hard not to use the word beautiful, but its fits every gritty frame of this film. The cinematography is awesome, really blown away thinking back to the brilliance of some of these shots, great work with the actors and the environments. My only complaint is that sound editing got a little to jarring, I get it's supposed to be an ugly film, but high pitched beeps and boops are annoying anyway you cut it (the 2001 monolith can suck it, thanks Kubrick), it drives home the madness of the setting, but I actually covered my ears at one point to muffle the noise. Other than that, the film is wildly challenging and rewarding for the viewer, I am blown away by the artistry here, it took this film to great heights, it made ugly pretty, which is no easy feat. If you don't like your films themes to be cut and dried, you're going to want to check out, pick apart and decipher the themes and mysteries of Biutiful, as it is more than deserving of such treatment.

So yes I liked this film quite a bit, but will hasten to rave until I've fully understood the motive of it. Thematically it's no straightforward story, there's something deep underneath all the grime, and I'm glad I dirtied my hands on it, and can't wait to do so again. A film for those who love long walks on the wild side and never choose the easy way out; a real decent thinking persons movie. A film in a class of it's own that breaks conventions in the best ways possible, and definitely among the years best films that I've seen thus far. Recommended.
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Magnificently grim but also slightly metaphysical picture that is able to reveal hope out of the depths of despair for its main character
sergevanduijnhoven15 October 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Uxbal is a protagonist of the highest dramatical calibre not unlike Hamlet or Oedipus. This ailing father of two children and spouse of an unstable woman suffering from borderline syndrome and drug addiction, has departed on a calvary that seems to have no end. In ever more harsh and merciless ways Uxbal is undergoing every sort of torment and kickback thrown upon him by the demons of his gravely deseased Fortune. Indeed, Uxbal finds out that he is suffering from a terminal form of prostate cancer. Even though in essence Uxbal is a good man - fate seems to have chosen quite a different direction for him as where we usually believe our chance and luck to be. However, in this struggle from amidst the darkness of his daily existence in the messy streets of Barcelona Uxbal somehow is able to come to term with his fate without giving in to despair. In fact, through a gradual process of material disattachment he rises to a level of wise and unprecedented reconciliation with destiny as well as with the people he cares about and loves. After a long and painful journey of cancerous ordeals and unwanted horrors, at the end Uxbal is ready to make his last and necessary sacrifice before he can depart into the snowy landscape of his timetranscending visionary dream of a chanceful reunification with his grandfather killed by Franco's royalists during the Civil War.

At the press conference in Cannes last May 2010 Alejandro González Inárittu declared in his vehimently articulate manner: "Even if darkness seems to be everywhere, Biutiful offers many touches of hope. I'd even say it's my most optimistic film. Uxbal's character is full of light. He puts a lot into organising his life, helping his children, loving other people."

Biutiful is a truly emotional and even spiritual masterpiece of the most magnificent kind. For whomever is willing or able to follow the main characters throughout their dazzling daily struggles to survive on the shady side of life in Barcelona whilst persisting in their illusionary and mostly illegal follies that are the unfortunate demonstrations of their communal longing for some warmth and wealth and happiness, he or she will be rewarded with a discovery that might be as liberating and emotional for Uxbal as it will be for the viewer following his endeavours from so nearby it hurts. What Inárittu has tried throughout his ruthless, fastpaced, extremely honest, direct and intimate style of holding the camera as close to one's skin as possible, is to make us sense and realize that in the end their might indeed be something like a human soul after all. A discovery not unlike the one pursued by his tormented characters from that other masterpiece of his: 21 Grams. The viewer who is able to show sympathy for Uxbal, will be able to witness a most remarkable moral recovery in the inner self of our slowly but steadily vanishing hero. In a very humble but all the more remarkable way Uxbal somehow managed to keep some ray of light awake amidst the darkness that is closing in on him from the realms of his grim unfortunate reality. In the end, on the threshold of his toilet and bedroom and amidst the company of his daughter and a refugee he was so kind as to adopt in his house after her husband was deported back to Africa, Uxbal is able to finally reach the surface of his dignity again. This happens while he is literally dying and physially collapsing. But spiritually, his ascendance back upon the slippery slope of his generous but tested and tormented mind towards a state of peacefulness and grace, is a tour de force indeed. It is magical. Mysterious. Hopeful. Just like the entire encadrement of Inarritu's latest masterpiece. And just like Javier Bardem's amazing achievement to make us weep and at the same time feel happy for the faith that he was able to sustain out of the cold and unjust misery that chased him all along his final destiny.
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great story, great location
antoniotierno10 February 2011
"Biutiful" is devastating. Not only isn't it a comfortable and audience-pleasing film but in this case the story's really shocking, well acted and directed and, overall, terribly sad. The film is basically about good and evil, death and life and similar topics. These themes are very effectively expressed in its atmospheric and innovative photography. Iñarritu's camera gets to detect images of fierce and brilliance in the squalor. Javier's face is painted with light and shadows, as well as with a sinister appearance suggesting strong contrition and redemption. Uxbal's efforts to make some generous deeds before his death are rendered in a terrific performance, which manages to elevate the bleak subject to a sublime level. "Biutiful" is a work of extraordinary vitality and humanity, with figures of untarnished quality (Uxbal's children and the Senegalese immigrant who'll raise them after his death). On a personal level Uxbal comes to terms with the close death but eventually shows a vision of reconciliation with the life he must leave behind. Watching the film is a really a must.
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It's official, Javier Bardem is one of the greatest contemporary actors
Serge_Zehnder20 October 2010
A father's love for his children amidst the everyday life of crime in Barcelona. This encapsulates pretty much the basic premise of this movie, and has said nothing about the content or merit.

I'm sure quite a few reviews about this disturbing but nevertheless transcendent film will be written here. Next to the praise, a lot of people will be appalled, others indifferent, then there will be the ones who complain that Biutiful is nothing more than showing our bad world being bad.

It may be that, but it is also full of promise and dare one say it, love. And it would be foolish to ignore the hope that can be seen amidst the pain and chaos. Iñárritu shows us that we as human are able to care, for ourselves and each other.

And if nothing else, "Biutiful" proves, now officially, that Javier Bardem is one of the greatest contemporary actors.

Felicidades y gracias
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Thought about giving it up
macktan8949 February 2011
Ordinarily I like these kinds of films about people struggling to overcome the odds of a bad deal.But in this film, Uxbal, the protagonist, has to struggle against every bad thing can ever happen to a person and all in a very short window of time. Death would be a welcome relief. Javier Bardem plays his role extremely well though; I felt his anguish over his children and the immigrants he "managed." His story gets weighed down, unfortunately, by the number of tragedies he must endure and the tasks he must execute. The director could have eliminated/edited a few of the off-point character traits and side stories to streamline the story for impact, which would have helped the film deliver more of a meaningful punch, not less.

In addition, the summary of this movie says Uxbal must suffer a number of tragedies on the way to redemption. I'm not sure there is any redemption here. In Children of Men, the protagonist endures a lot and struggles through his own character defects to protect an black female fugee whose pregnancy provides hope for the human race. We feel joyful at the end of CofM because he has accomplished his task despite the odds. The ending of Biutiful, however, lacks a clear meaning and we're unsure of everyone's fate except for Uxbal's. The experience was depressing.

I gave the movie an 8 because it was beautifully produced and well acted; the story was original, an uncommon view of Barcelona and the immigrants who go there for work under terrible conditions. But I doubt if anyone would want to see this film more than once.
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Interesting, but hardly biutiful...
Max_cinefilo8912 February 2011
Biutiful is a departure and a confirmation for Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu: on the one hand, it is another study of lives gone awry, with no punches pulled in regards to the misery experienced by the characters; on the other, it's the first film he's made he parted ways with screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga, who preferred to move on to other projects after Babel. Biutiful proves two things: firstly, Inarritu remains very good at constructing memorable images; secondly, these aren't worth quite as much without Arriaga's words.

Set in Barcelona, the film ditches the filmmaker's traditional fragmented, multi-character narrative, focusing solely on one imposing figure: Uxbal (Javier Bardem), a man who has to deal with his own imminent death from cancer, a dire relationship with his family (wife, kids and brother), his ties to local criminal activities and, more generally, the ugliness he sees every day walking down the streets. Surely the (intentionally misspelled) title must be ironic.

Working on the script himself, Inarritu goes for a simpler story, but doesn't renounce his penchant for harrowing material. In fact, Biutiful is undoubtedly the least cheerful film he's directed to this day, and that's saying something. His depiction of a gray, ugly Barcelona is faultless, exposing the city's seedy underbelly and disease (both physical and spiritual) with genuine, relentless storytelling passion. However, this is also detrimental to the film's impact: without Arriaga's more experienced take on the subject, the director doesn't know when to stop, throwing in one tragedy after another for the best part of the movie's 148 minutes, with no pause for breathing. It's almost too bleak, too tragic, to fully convince as a drama.

Does this mean all the praise Inarritu has received in the past was premature? Not really. Even his detractors usually acknowledge his talent with actors, and in this case, perhaps being aware of the script's shortcomings, he has hit the jackpot: from start to finish, Bardem is a revelation, justly awarded with the Best Actor prize in Cannes. Sure, he's always been a gifted thespian, and no stranger to difficult parts (see The Sea Inside), but here he's really in a class of his own. Communicating with his sad, tired eyes rather than his broken voice, he carries the whole picture with a stoic dignity that is always gripping and heartbreaking.

While easy to mock and criticize, Biutiful, for all its flaws, warrants at least one viewing on the grounds that it proves beyond doubt that sometimes a truly astounding performance can save an otherwise mediocre film.
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BIUTIFUL - a spiritual journey through the despair of life
InTheNameOfCinema21 December 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I saw Biutiful last week at the International Film Festival of Kerala where it was greeted with a standing ovation after the screening. Some may feel Biutiful boring and depressing but it will be a transcendent experience of redemption for the rest. Alejandro González Iñárritu has come up with a movie that could take you to deep trenches of despair and end up on the spiritual path with a glimpse of hope… Biutiful is one of the best movies of the year if not the best.. on par with Iñárritu's Amores Peros. It is a meditation on the dark areas of urban life…

It is rich with a true socio-political image (which some might consider as a bleak world view of Iñárritu) by portraying the marginalized multi ethnic lives of Barcelona. Story is filled with bleak images of lives of Senegalese immigrants and Chinese sweatshop workers that will remain as unforgettable visuals in our minds..

Biutiful is the story of Uxbal, a terminally ill man who lives on crimes. Uxbal (played by Bardem) itself is a bridge between our world and the eternal, a man of contradictions.For example, he has a supernatural gift of speaking with the dead but ends up being purely human by charging money for it. Uxbal's wife Marambra who has bipolar disorder is a gem of a characterization. The movie has a linear narrative unlike Iñárritu's previous works. But don't expect a spoon fed Hollywood drama. Movie is deliberately ambiguous at times and open to multiple interpretations.

Good characterizations, smart script and wonderful performances along with artfully dense scenic strength of the problematic city lives, aided by great cinematography make Biutiful a brilliant experience. But the trump card of the movie is a stunning performance by Javier Bardem…

Watch it for an improved version of Iñárritu and masterful acting of Bardem
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Nothing biutiful here....
Wendell Ricketts25 January 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Never in my life have I been so relieved to see the protagonist of a film drop dead, but the death of Uxbal, _Biutiful_'s main character, still comes more than than an hour after I started looking forward to it. This relentless, pointlessly depressing, depravedly dismal two-and-a-half hours of human suffering might have had some redeeming social value if it were a documentary, but it isn't. Instead, it's meant to be art, which means it doesn't even have truth to recommend it. And that's where Iñárritu's sadistic self-absorption and grim dedication to the pornography of squalor becomes the film's downfall. Yes, there's a feeling of "intimacy," as the NYT writes – the intimacy of cleaning up someone else's vomit. Bardem's noble, expressive face is the only thing that makes many of the film's scenes watchable, but the message of _Biutiful_ is just this: we are lost, we are lost, we are lost. What would appear to be the film's only saving grace (Ige's decision to stay in Spain to care for Uxbal's orphaned children) comes at the cost of immense suffering: she's forced to remain in a country she hates and be separated from the man she loves, who is also her child's father, in order to dedicate herself to righting someone else's disaster of a life. You're trying to tell me that that's _Biutiful_?
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Javier Bardem has to win the Oscar for this performance
pefrss15 February 2011
Warning: Spoilers
If anybody should win the best actor this year it is certainly Javier Bardem. What a performance. What a face. What a man. A man, who looks like a man, not like an advertisement for some aftershave.( Yeah, but I still have not forgiven him for his participation in that stinker "Eat, Pray ,Love"). Sometimes I think that Europe is dealing in a much more open way with immigration problems than the States, where the mantra is always that we welcome everybody from everywhere and give them a chance to live the infamous "American Dream". That the dream is more like a nightmare for most first generation immigrants is conveniently ignored and swept under the carpet. And for American viewers this film should be an eye opener portraying the huge numbers of illegal immigrants most European countries have to deal with. The film dives into the underworld, visit's the back alleys of Barcelona and shines a light into sweatshops, at human trafficking and police corruption and mental illness. Does not sound like a very uplifting movie, especially as our hero Uxbal (Javier Bardem) is dying of cancer and pisses from time to time a red stream into the toilet bow.. But I left this movie much more uplifted than for example that slasher move "Black Swan" which nearly brought me to the point never to visit a movie theater again.

The difference? Biutiful is a believable story ,even with the excursions into the paranormal and the acting is outstanding from everybody and especially Javier Bardem. Black Swan was unbelievable in every aspect and the acting forgettable and if N. Portman wins an Oscar for it, the studio must have bribed everybody..

The location of Biutiful is Barcelona, but we see little of the spectacular touristy Barcelona, just the "Sagrada Famiglia" as a silhouette in the background, a symbol for the family of the hero, who is not holy or whole at all. I recommend this movie and do not think that this is dark movie, on the contrary I think it is a realistic movie dealing with problems most people have to face one way or the other in their lifetime.
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jordang7330 January 2011
I just came from the theater with the sensation of wasting my money and my time here. Being an admirer of the early work of Iñárritu I have to say that since "Babel" he is going down. This guy could be an excellent director, but he still has to demonstrate his skills as a scriptwriter. Maybe he needs Arriaga back. The script of this new movie is a complete fiasco; I still don't know what was the main idea of the movie. After the first 15 minutes I started to note that something was going wrong, half an hour later I was still waiting for something with substance, after an hour I gave up. The lack of focus on a central idea is the main feature of this story, and the characters are plain and uninteresting. The dialogues, by trying to follow the plot (or the lack of) are consequently vague and forgettable, even ridiculous. I think Iñárritu had just an idea and he added up a context or a background, but missed the real thing. It's like a collage of non credible situations and subplots disconnected from a central theme. This script is at amateur level. Any college student majoring in film could write a better movie. I really hope this great director don't follow the path of Shyamalan, letting his ego to take control instead of getting advice from the millions of screenwriters around him that can help him out. (Actually, I hope both go back and start doing awesome movies again someday). The fact that this movie has been praised by many critics is an insult to the common sense.
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Biutiful is very guud
leobardo11 March 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Life is beautiful, but misspelled... This is the premise: a backwards world in the eyes of a good man, with beautiful intentions yet too ignorant, and too overwhelmed by the world he lives in, to rearrange it all the way it is supposed to be… At some point, however, the clever premise falls through, and unfortunately, a true lack of creative work gives way to a lackluster ending with drawn-out scenes that bring no tension or intention, and make one feel that there is nothing there to say in the first place. It was a shame, at some level, to have such a stale climax for such a confusing body of a story. It made the completely chaotic development within the movie, that had a true purpose and that I comprehend and applaud, a waste of time, including the trite beginning/ending that could have very well been left in the cutting room floor (apart from the haunting dead owl over the white snow). Iñarritu visibly lost track of his movie, giving half-assed importance to stories such as that of the gay Chinese couple or the fact that Bardem's character could speak with dead people, while ignoring others (such as the relationship with the "spiritual" guide, or with his boy and wife during his final days…), which could have really given him the key to open the window of this "enclosed room" of a movie; a possibility that at one point Bardem's spiritual guide enunciates (without much subtlety at all, mind you: "go fix things up"), keeping us expectant and eventually leading us to much disappointment when the movie fails to deliver. Yes, life is a complete mess, yet there is always that hint of hope… the theme gets old and Iñarritu, at some point in his own mess, finds himself in the need of resolving without finding the right leads to do so, and is forced to simplify (i.e. with the Senegalese woman not stealing after all, or him passing on his ring/stone to his daughter… quite a lame example of a symbolic moment). There is something to this story, but… is it misspelled? In plain words, it should have been better… and when good things can be better, many times they are only overly ambitious, which is synonymous to mediocre.
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2.5h of suffering without a message
stephaneggli15 February 2011
I really love Babel and Amores Perros, but this movie is a big disappointment - the film does not present a new topic, nor a conclusion or an interpretation or anything. The whole 2.5h you just follow a guy acting really stupid, and it's painful to watch. This movie pretends to be really deep, but there's no depth at all - just a description of a miserable life. Sometimes plain neutral descriptions work, but surely not here. No question: technically/camera-wise etc. the movie is very well done, and Bardem is fantastic, but the script ruins everything. I agree with other reviewers saying that Inarritu should listen to the advice of screenwriters.
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Don't waste your 2.5 hours of your time! Just because it's "art" doesn't make it good
Vito A28 December 2011
This movie and story are simply a long, SLOW collection of depressing scenes strung together that have NO deep meaning, and NO profound wisdom.

It is very frustrating to me when the collective "art mentality" raves about such a film being of epic depth, or philosophically/intellectually stimulating. This film meanders aimlessly -- a wallowing journey of despair, misery, and hopelessness. Don't waste 2.5 hours waiting and wanting this film to improve or deliver a worthy denouement. It is absolutely horrible.

I am a patron of the arts, and I believe in "ars gratia artis," however it is ostensibly lemming pretentiousness when people view a canvas on which an artist has vomited and call it "good art." Yes, it may be "art," but just because someone says it's art doesn't make it good. Beauty is definitely in the eye of the beholder, and such is the case with this film.

Regarding Javier Bardem's "fine" acting in this film: His brooding persona appears the same as in the movie, "No Country For Old Men," sans the dark psychologically twisted murderer ingredient. This role could've been played just as well by a number of different actors. Bardem's swarthy appearance and throaty voice lend more of a grittiness to the role, but come on—he's perfectly typecast; review his filmography. It's not too much of a stretch to see him in this role. In my opinion, "good acting" is when an actor/actress can become the character (and I don't mean method acting) so as to dissociate as much of their own "self" as possible from the performance that the character, such as Marlon Brando in "The Godfather," Anthony Hopkins in "Silence of the Lambs," Tom Hanks in "Forrest Gump," or Al Pacino in "Scarface."

For those supercilious reviewers who applaud this film's exceptional ability to depict the dismal characteristics of the grim and squalid parts of society: exploitation, meager existence, futility, juxtaposed with thinly veiled ephemeral moments of poignancy, I'm appalled to see that so many people rate this film highly in comparison with other films and docudramas which express and portray these elements more effectively. It's not significantly difficult to create a depressing film and to evoke a catharsis with the audience. Seriously, what do you find that is monumentally profound about this movie?

Save yourself 2.5 hours of depression (unless you like that type of torture)of and watch something else.
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recommended by myETVmedia, great movie.
etvltd7 October 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Alejandro González Iñárritu is one of the most powerful voices of 21st century cinema. Ever since 'Amores Perros', followed by '21 Grams', and "Babel", Iñárritu has not stopped amazing us managing with each film to take our collective breath away. So imagine what he can do with immensely talented powerhouse Javier Bardem as the anti- hero of his new bone-chilling Greek tragedy. No wonder the Cannes jury gave Bardem the Palme d'Or for best Actor. Uxbal, a black-market dealer, learns he has terminal cancer. He must survive long enough to find somebody to take care of his children after he's gone. The clock is ticking. Death is coming. Iñárritu's genius is to make us care deeply for such a man. In the urban jungle we barely recognize as Barcelona, Uxbal deals in human lives, supplying black market labor to employers who exploit the illegal immigrants cruelly and shamelessly. He also "sells" peace to bereaved relatives, having the power to communicate with the spirits of the recently deceased. With all his supernatural powers, Uxbal is helpless in the face of the terrible disease eating away at his body and...
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kenjha30 December 2011
A divorced man with two children learns he has terminal cancer with months to live, but makes no effort to plan for his children's future. It's hard to feel sympathy for such a selfish person. It is not clear what his job is, but it involves a funeral home, black drug dealers, illegal Chinese immigrants, and gay Chinese businessmen. The presentation is confusing and increasingly dreary. Little more than a collection of random scenes, it quickly becomes so tiresome that one roots for Bardem to die so that the film can end. However, it goes on and on for what seems like three hours. It is hard to believe that the man who made "Amores Perros" and "Babel" is responsible for this mess.
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Terrific Performance in Hard-Hitting Drama
Michael_Elliott19 February 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Biutiful (2010)

*** 1/2 (out of 4)

Depressing story about criminal Uxbal (Javier Bardem) who is told by his doctors that he has prostate cancer and only a few months to live. Uxbal works in the streets of Barcelona's ghetto where he sells Chinese people to sweatshops so that they have a place to work and tries to do the best he can in the situation. Before he faces death he tries to come to terms with the future of his young children and well as making sure he goes to the next life without any debts. BIUTIFUL is a rather interesting character study because we're given a sinful man who does a lot of bad things but at the same time the screenplay makes sure that we know that evil though he's bad deep down he is good. One of the most heartbreaking sections of the film deals with his relationship with one of the Chinese women and her young son. He sells them out for cheap labor because it's his job but at the same time this is putting money in their pockets. Uxbal wants to do something good for the Chinese folks so he goes to a store to buy them heaters so that they'll at least be a little more comfortable. The directions the screenplay takes this gesture is without question one of the most powerful and haunting images of any film this year. I found the screenplay to be extremely well-written and I really loved how they juggled this guys final few days on Earth. It certainly makes you think what you would do in the same situation and as the final moments get closer you can't help but be devastated because of everything that happens. Running 150-minutes the film doesn't take any sort cuts and instead it allows our main character to deal with everyone in his life and I enjoyed the extended running time because it makes you feel as if you really get to know Uxbal and those around him. It seems Bardem's Oscar-nomination really shocked people, myself included, but after you see the movie you'll see why he was honored and you'll also have a hard time coming up with a reason on why he shouldn't be one of the favorites to win. Bardem is in pretty much every second of this movie and it's impossible to take you eyes off of him. There are many times when you don't need words to tell you what's going on because the actor's face tells you everything. I'm really not sure how some actors use their eyes so well but the sadness and desperation that Bardem shows was rather amazing. He has quite a bit to do here as his relationships vary depending on who he is with. The way he deals with the children were incredibly touching. The Chinese people and their outcome. There's the stuff with the wife who is sleeping with his brother. There are a lot of situations that Bardem is put in but he handles all extremely well. As Roger Ebert pointed out in his review, Bardem can be beautiful, ugly, evil or a saint and he can do all of this on their own or wrapped up in one. The supporting players are all equally strong as is the terrific music score by Gustavo Santaolalla. The cinematography by Rodrigo Prieto is another visual beauty as it perfectly captures the ugliness and bleakness of the streets and the overall visual look reminded me of Scorsese's MEAN STREETS. You could also say the beauty of some of the lighter moments will remind some of the work by Bunuel. BIUTIFUL isn't an easy film to sit through as it's certainly depressing and at times many will probably be looking away from the screen. Technically it's perfect and Bardem's performance makes it something truly special and worth seeing.
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Extremely depressing movie wrote by probably very sick people.
mariusedum12 May 2011
I had really high hopes about this movie. Inarritu and Bardem are two of my favorites names when it comes to movies. But it was a very big disappointment. All you get to see for at least two hours (I couldn't make it through to the end)is deep misery, then some more incredible misery, and more disturbing misery in top of all the other misery. After two hours I felt physically sick and I had to stop watching. What is the point of this absurd and grotesque movie? What is "biutiful" about it? All I could see was horrible. All I could not see was horrible. If there was anything "biutiful", some smart message buried inside all this sick movie I certainly couldn't get it. The words that come to my mind when I think about what I saw are the words which end Apocalypse Now: the horror...the horror!
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Heartache throughout each scene
hernandezroxana414 May 2011
Warning: Spoilers
In my life don't feel emotionally unless I'm going through a dramatic experience. Watching this creation of art I felt pain and sorrow. I don't think I've ever encountered a movie that made me cry and feel something under my throat every 10 minutes of the movie. It's past 30 minutes and I'm still not over it. The only other recent movie that made me tear up only once was the Notebook. Alejandro González Iñárritu opened my eyes about the world again. I feel that if I don't watch his point of view I might close my mind, I love when he and his crew open up my mind about the world. This world is so horrible yet its so "Biutiful." TRying to find a peace of contentness in this world. This movie is a must see, he makes me want to become an activist and help people in need and stop exploitation. But I have to focus on me right now, life is the survival of the fittest indeed.
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Movie full of moral dilemmas
snowpanda17 March 2011
Warning: Spoilers
-This review may contain spoilers-

After reading a couple of comments beforehand and knowing a couple of the old Inarritu movies I was pretty prepared that these will be very depressing 148 minutes. Maybe I was even too good prepared, because after the movie I was not shocked the same way as after "Amores Perros". There are some differences between this movie and the older Iñárritu's movies. In the past he was always creating a couple of main parallel plots (multi-layers) that were independent at the beginning but somehow connected at the end. This time there was one main linear plot that was somehow divided into different stories (maybe too many different stories) that were connected through the character of Javier Bardem, who makes really an amazing role in this movie. At the end of the movie though I had the feeling that some of the stories were not really fully developed.

Iñárritu has succeeded to show the other face of Barcelona that remains pretty hidden for the tourists that drink their sangria in Barrio Gotico and lay on the beach in Barceloneta and feel themselves pretty good depicted in "Vicky, Christina, Barcelona". This is a face full of suffer, illegal immigrants, hidden slavery, poverty, corruption and misery. This is a face, where the lives of the group Asian workers does not have other value than moving them from business to business, in order to make more profits for their "owners". In this world there is nothing such a responsibility and loyalty. Everybody fights to survive in this jungle.Thus the Senegal woman chooses to take the money that the dying Uxbal ( Javier Bardem) is giving to her to look after his two children and she goes instead back to her family in Senegal leaving the Uxbal children without nothing, but their mother with bipolar syndrome and to be honest I was not able to blame her, because the movie was so full of moral and ethical dilemmas that at the end you really do not know what is good and what is bad.

There was one more very impressive thing about this movie - its camera. The way the suffering of Uxbal has been filmed as well as the way Barcelona with its hidden people has been shown was so realistic that it had something of a documentary movie in it.
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Bardem gives a powerful tour-de-force turn
george.schmidt22 February 2011
Warning: Spoilers
BIUTIFUL (2010) *** Javier Bardem gives a powerful tour-de-force turn in his latest collaboration with Spanish filmmaker Alejnadro Gonzalez Inarritu, as Uxbal, a Barcelona scrounger attempting to get his affairs – foreign & domestic – in order before succumbing to the death sentence of cancer. A well-meaning father who loves his children (Hanaa Bouchaib and Guillermo Estrella) yet lives less than a presentable life and has his work cut out with their estranged mother (Maricel Alvarez), an addict and a hooker whose occasionally annoying presence threatens to take over the storyline (which frankly is overloaded with two other linear tales including illegal immigration and a sweatshop). One of the film's most breathtaking visuals: heaven imagined as a pristine snow blanketed burnt out forest.
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A Film Where Nothing is Beautiful
Claudio Carvalho28 December 2011
In the dirty periphery of Barcelona, Uxbal (Javier Bardem) survives operating as middleman in business with illegal immigrant workers in the Chinese community, selling the slave labor and bribing the police and receiving a percentage of each business. Uxbal has also the ability to communicate with the dead and is the loving single father of the ten year-old Ana (Hanaa Bouchaib) and the little boy Mateo (Guillermo Estrella). Their mother Marambra (Maricel Álvarez) is a bipolar alcoholic prostitute with an unstable and self-destructive behavior.

When Uxbal learns that he is terminal with an advanced prostate cancer and metastasis and has only a couple of months, he saves all the possible money and seeks out a person to raise Ana and Mateo. Uxbal buys the cheapest heaters to use in the warehouse whether the Chinese workers sleep and the equipment leak gas and kill the twenty-five illegal immigrants. When Uxbal meets the African illegal immigrant Ige (Diaryatou Daff), he brings her home and after a few days, he believes he has found the appropriate person to raise his two children.

The first thing that calls the attention in "Beautiful" is the city of Barcelona, totally different from the post cards or the Internet messages of garbage collecting system and looking like a Third World city, with slums, dirtiness and outcast people. The characters are also ugly and only the love and dedication of Uxbal to his beloved children is beautiful.

The unpleasant story is gloomy and shows the reality of illegal African and Chinese immigrant and their poor conditions; the corruption of the police; and how people fight to survive, like Marambra says in a certain moment. Javier Bardem has a great performance in an ambiguous character. However I expected more from "Biutiful" considering the hype around it. Last but not the least, the optimistic believe that Ige has returned to raise Ana and Mateo. But the end is open to interpretations. My vote is six.

Title (Brazil): "Biutiful"
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