Like Frozen River, I selected this movie after hearing an interview with Javier Bardem on NPR Fresh Air (podcast/US National Public Radio program), following his Oscar nomination for his performance in the film. I am also a fan of Inarritu, his film Amores Perros is one of my favorite. Bardem spoke a lot about what it meant to him to star in a film which featured the other side of the city he grew up in, which people don't realize exists.
Biutiful is consistent with Inarritu's other films which deal with the 'grittier' side of life. Bardem is a single father (separated) dealing with a personal illness while trying to make sure his children are taken care of.
Other people say the film is hard and depressing. Could be. But I think it's real, and attempts to show how/why people make bad decisions, but without justifying those choices.
Bardem is convincing in his performance.
I would watch it again.