on 14 September 2011
Every now and then a film comes along and engages you completely and draws you into its world and Biutiful manages that completely, for me anyway.
Cancer, immigration, spirituality, death, greed, love, relationships, corruption, loyalty...just some of the themes in two hours or so of stunning film-making. Never over-sentimental, not cliche-ridden, the film hits on these issues directly yet sensitively. Heartbreakingly good acting from Javier Bardem (Uxbal) makes the film, his presence throughout a combination of gentle and tortured at the same time.
The film is raw yet sensitive, harsh yet tender....this is without doubt Alejandro González Iñárritu's darkest film to date yet there is hope within it. Wonderful photography and acting, issues dealt with head-on...all in all a terrific film.
Undoubtedly Inarritu's finest moment so far. A stunning trawl through the underbelly of a Barcelona that the tourists never see: drug trafficking; illegal immigration; sweatshops; bent cops and a spiritual intensity (bordering on magical belief) that is perhaps uniquely Iberian.
All this is portrayed in the life of Uxbal - at once a middleman for all sorts of illegal activity and a devoted father to two children whose mother is too unreliable to look after them. His imminent death forces him to look at his life and bring some sort of moral order to the chaos of his existence.
I simply can't agree with other reviewer's comments about over-complications and supposedly unnecessary additions. This 140 minutes speeds by as you are swept up in the final days of Uxbal - a less than perfect person trying to make the most of a less than perfect world. (The nightclub scene, for example, emphasises the essentially moral difference between Uxbal and his supposedly more respectable brother. The brother exploits `kids' sexually; Uxbal does everything to protect his kids and also some of the migrant workers he employs.)
Bardem has rightly been hailed for yet another outstanding performance - making us care about a deeply troubled character engaged in highly questionable activities. He brings out the quest for morality and spiritual tranquility that Uxbal attempts to find in his chaotic life.
But ultimately the greatness of the movie rests on the director's unique vision. No-one makes films like Inarritu with their mix of comedy and tragedy, pointless brutality and spiritual sense - life, in other words. I laughed, I winced, I wept - I cared about the characters that he created. I enjoyed the moments of beauty he uncovered in this violent, brutish world we all share. I wondered if there was any point to our existence - or if we are like the starlings at nightfall, playing out a choreographed dance for no obvious purpose.
If you are looking for a simple uncomplicated movie, a slice of `entertainment', then this probably isn't for you. If you care about the complex beast that is the human condition and you enjoy an artist's attempts to explore the reasons for our existence then you might find something to appreciate here.
on 2 September 2011
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.
on 28 December 2011
I hate when critics try to hype movies as most of them are almost puerile mockery of the genre themes they are derived from ,so i went to see Inarritu's 'Biutiful'very reluctantly,but despite a somewhat sluggish start ,Inarritu totally surprised me as this was a director's dream come true in the form of a multiculural ,dark and almost nightmarish account of modern day European and human condition set in the blighted suburbs of a bereft looking Barcelona .
I saw Inarritu's contemporary multicultural drama as a dark ode to current European condition ,but it also dispays a very humane side to European psyche which is an optimistic streak enbedded in it's main character, the script has no black or white characters but just humanity behaving as ordinary beings at large ,set in Spain with a wonderful social comment on current global human condition which i totally got immersed into though i find 'Javier Bardem 'can be harsh to watch on screen but here he shows a very diverse side of his talent , i was touched and moved both emotionally and spiritually and i will you must see this if you like powerful and realistic cinema which is both ingenious and innovative in technique and content .
This is a raw ,intelligent and yet a poetic verisimilitude of a man gazing at his own death, straight in the eyes yet facing all his ghosts from past and life failures in his mortal existence ,and becomes a philosophical poem at times when you least expect it ,particularly when Inarritu explores the past and the relationship between Uxbal[Bardem ] and his dead father ,who he never met, and extrapolates it to his son 'Matteo' in a metaphorical perspective in present ,and the role that miss Portillo plays as Bardem's hysterically manic ,cheating psychotic wife and failed mother is just too poignant to be anything but mesmerising and it is like a piquant painting dripping with emotional excesses on celluloid .
The movie deals with issues like terminal illness ,immigaration ,human trafficking corruption ,racism and it all is so sophisticated as it is portrayed as in a real life milieu in modern day Catalunya .
The gritty settings are anything but beautiful; shot in the grimy suburbs of Barcelona infested with 'African immigranrs selling fake 'Louis Vuittons' being made By illicit Chinese women trafficked into the Euro hovel as cheap labour and Uxbal is the middle man in this rotten trade as he makes his living as a ''go -between ''the human vagrants from the
Asian and African third world ,who are looking for a'lost dream' in Eurozone ,and as Uxbal bribes the cops and comes to terms with his own calamity he somehow come full circle in the tragic existence of human status quo .
Bardem and his manic depressive wife and two kids are almost real characters ,and Bardem as the terminally ill Spanish man ,trying to struggle with his own failures and his nemesis is affective but so are the 'Senegalese'and 'Chinese'immigrants ,struggling hard and humiliated by the European judicial system as illegal immigrants withouit any rights as they are termed 'illegal aliens' .
This movie makes the Hollywood brigade look like a'kindergarten entertainment' industry as it has both innovative narrative technique , visual imagery that is haunting and a truly fascinating atmosphere that exudes a sense of'deja vu' in some dimensions and becomes a true experience to cherish in it's entirety .
The characters and relationships take time to evolve and i was losing patience at moments with the 'subtitles' too ,but it was a powerful moving portarit that finally emerged with some memorablly directed sequences .The movie is a harrowing and dark but a deeply spiritual look at contemporary human condition and it is Inarritu's most personal work ,which i will place above the much appraised 'Amores perroes'and 'Babel',and it is the most realistic movie i saw in 2010, which is totally ''unpredictable'' and has nothing familiar about it ,despite being the account of a grey and corrupt middle aged man dying of a terminal illness ,coming to grips with his failed family life and his misadventures with rest of humanity in a haze of corruption and his own delusionary deceptions .
The poignant visuals of dead Chinese immigrants killed by gas poisoning scattered like rag dolls in a sordid decreipt basement of a derelict building like cattle contrasted with the schizoid degenerate drug hazed'club culture'on the other hand with a stoned set of frustrated modern human beings in pursuit of carnal thrills in a quick fix are indelibly etched on your subconcios and affect you despite the fact you are fully aware of these dark asprcts of our flawed system and this is true art as it communicates at all levels with human condition .
The fact that no one here is anything but flawed and real ,makes this a modern classic as it is neither a masterpiece nor perfect but is is a virtual reality experience about fragile human mortality and multiculturalism in a moribund and moving frame very ingeniously executed by Inarritu .
Mucho gracias to mister Inarritu and mister Bardem fully deserved his ''best actor award in Cannes'' for this powerful portrayal .
on 27 September 2011
This film will remain with me for a long time, outstanding performance from Bardem and I will certainly be looking out for more of films from this director. The ending sent shivers down my spine. Am looking forward to watching this all over again
on 2 August 2013
I didn't buy this film for the title, I bought it on the strength of the reviews I had read, and the presence of Javier Bardem. I was not disappointed. Bardem carries this film on his shoulders. Bardem plays a victim who refuses to lie down, a modern day would-be Robin Hood whose Sherwood Forest is darkest Barcelona and whose Maid Marion is on a downward spiral to oblivion.
This is not a film to be watched if you are depressed. The storyline leads you to a point where you start to wonder if things can get any worse, and they do, again, and again until you are searching for that one glimmer of light that will make everything right again. Whether you find it, depends on your mood.
The film is, beautifully shot, powerfully acted, painstaingly directed. It is an emotional roller-coaster. Five stars, no worries.
on 24 November 2014
I finally managed to gather my courage to see ‘Biutiful’, having been put off for weeks by the reviews of a majority of critics, which generally slam this film as ‘too bleak and unsettling to watch’. On the contrary, I found it to be an absorbing, deeply engaging, sobering and compassionate meditation of life in modern-day Spain that we hardly know about: the hopeless lives of the less privileged half of our compatriots in Europe, a continent we indiscriminately boast of as part of the developed world.
What irritates me most about our mainstream critics, who get paid for the junk they ceaselessly puke, is that they expect each and every film to be a thrill ride. If that must be the general rule, cinema would stagnate without expanding its horizons through the creative experimentation of gifted, young filmmakers and would instead continue to be dominated by Hollywood and Bollywood. Groundbreaking movies like ‘Biutiful’ therefore require the attention and patronage from the true lovers of world cinema, so as to encourage the sadly parched crop of youthful, new talent to shine and to elevate cinema to the present century and beyond.
The Mexican, writer-director Alejandro González Iñárritu, with his astonishing portfolio of award winning films like ‘Amores Perros’ , ‘21 Grams’  and ‘Babel’ , is a better celebrated spearhead of this pack of creative talent, and this film is further testament to his lucidly infinite imagination. Shot largely in natural light and seamlessly constructed in sequences that are introduced through stunning but meditative visuals of life outside the storyline bustling away, the film manifests as an otherworldly poem which transcends the boundaries of earthly reality. This is further supplemented by the superb score by Gustavo Santaolalla, which beautifully integrates with the visual content. The film opens with a prologue in which a carefully composed image of a maritime woodland grabs our attention. It first appears as a two dimensional still, like a painting on a wall, and then transforms to a moving image with depth. The same image reappears at the end of the film in an epilogue to conclude this heartrending story.
With his enormous screen presence and limitless talent, Javier Bardem cements this story together with yet another blistering performance as the hapless father who is trying his desperate best to bring up two young kids, in the frequent absence of their mentally ill mother. Though deeply involved in the Catalonian underworld of piracy, fake goods and exploitation of illegal immigrants, he is not the moron that one would expect from a streetwise, petty criminal. Instead, he is a compassionate and conscientious man who would go out of his way to help and protect the very immigrants whom his motley syndicate is exploiting. He is as tolerant and stable as a bedrock despite the personal upheaval he is going through, being understanding about the manic depressive behaviour of his wife, beyond what is humanely possible. To make the character even more complex, he also has psychic abilities, which appear to help him converse with the dead and thereby to make a few Euros on the side by frequenting funeral parlours in the neighbourhood.
Ultimately, the film is about the disadvantaged, who are surviving penniless in an uncaring world, but without losing their humanity and compassion. It is therefore a movie about redemption, in preparation for the certain death that we all face sooner or later!
‘Biutiful’ is an example of world cinema at its creative best and, contrary to what the critics are saying, is not a bleak tearjerker, but rather is a realistic, thought provoking and strangely uplifting contemplation of life as we know it.
on 16 October 2011
Excellent, really worth watching, a master piece which shows aspects of life we never have time to think about. Biutiful is far from being beautiful it is glorious.
on 24 August 2013
This film takes no prisoners and it just tells it how it is for those who live in the twilight world of illegal workers. The hero and everyone else virtually is trying to find some sense of decency but they are all caught up in a relentless vicious game of cat and mouse. This had me squirming and wanting it to end although I was holding onto some hope for a reprieve in some form or other. It did not come. Films like this outstrip and outdo most others glossed up in the 'egoland' of Hollywood. It was not entertainment at all . how could it be? The challenge which arises from this film is that you have to face up to it, and accept it as it is.. no excuses and no pleas for clemency. Sheer cinematic brilliance.
on 24 September 2011
If your looking for turkeys don't look here.This is another emotional ride through some pretty harrowing events. As usual Inarritu has made another beautiful film and Javier Bardem is just perfect.What a face! It truly was Biutiful.