128 of 136 people found the following review helpful
on December 14, 2010
If Mr. Iñárritu went to 3 continents to film the great story of BABEL, his latest film, BIUTIFUL is bringing people from 3 continents to one amazing place; the underworld of Barcelona. I saw this well crafted art film a few days ago in Los Angeles (Mr.Iñárritu and Bradem were present) and wanted to share with you my take on this important, agonizing and remarkable picture. It will take you to places seldom explored by others, it will set in motion untapped feelings, it will make you hate or love it, it will make you talk about it.
Mr. Bardem is masterfully playing Uxbal and with him we slowly and painfully descend into Hades, human misery and his personal hell. The complex character of Uxbal is central for the film and through his journey we meet some of the most unusual characters, places and situations. There is an action/high energy scene of police chasing drug dealers in center of Barcelona, remarkably filmed by the very talented Rodrigo Prieto; it will stay with me for a long time.
Many call BIUTIFUL "a love story between a father and his children", but it is much much more than that. Maybe this line will sell a few extra tickets, but it is more about a extremely dysfunctional modern "accidental" family. The mother, Marambra is superbly played by newcomer Maricel Álvarez, and the children are ever so patient, innocent and understanding.
Kindness, hope, goodwill and humanity is not missing in Biutiful, it is ever-present in the daily dealings of Uxbal who's psyche we enter from the very beautiful and poetic beginning of the film.
See BIUTIFUL with an open heart and mind, let yourself go places you never wanted to go, places you only watch on the evening news.
My tag line for BIUTIFUL: "You don't choose your family. We all belong to somebody, but to belong to Uxbal and Marambra, is both a blessing and a curse."
31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on February 7, 2011
Alejandro Innaritu has directed 4 movies so far, Biutiful being the latest, and all 4 of them are solid. There is great substance in them all. Every film of his has several complex, interknit storylines, each with detailed narratives, and nuances. Innaritu potrays his astounding skill and capability of interlinking several of these, cumulating into an exhilarating panoramic vision, which is a feast to watch.
Innaritu has always casted great actors for his films, such as Gael Garcia in Babel & Amores Perros, Sean Penn & Benicio Del Toro in 21 Grams and Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett & Rinko Kikuchi in Babel. Here, there has been much praise for Javier Bardem's potrayal of the low-life criminal, trying to make ends meet for his family, and nearing his death very soon, and it is all very well deserved. Javier Bardem is a remarkable actor, portraying his characters with simplicity, yet with layers of complexity.
*Might contain spoilers below*
The most interesting characteristic of his films, is the use of regional languages & characters to a very natural degree. Cheng Tai Shen, playing the role of the Chinese syndicate businessman, uses spanish and chinese with much fluency and ease, which I found remarkable. Just as captivating is the role played by Diaryatou Daff, of an african immigrant woman, who is caught in the disturbance of her husband's involvement in the underground drug racket, and his deportation.
The journey for Uxbal (Bardem) is devastating, and tragic, yet fulfilling in a way, since his transition into the afterlife is shown to be one of serene, his departure from his family implying painful repercussions, nonetheless, which is what the viewer is left to come to terms with, in the end.
Another element or tool which the director uses, concurrent to his previous films, is the use of the strong background score and music. Babel had excellent score from the maestro Gustavo Santaolalla, and so does Biutiful. The use of progressive dance tracks such as The Joker (ATFC Remix) by Fatboy Slim in Babel, and Shudder/King of Snake by Underworld in Biutiful, intensify the mood and atmosphere of the films, combined with remarkable camera-work and cinematography, reveal the underbelly of cities such as Japan, and Barcelona, where city-life is portrayed near perfectly, and contrasted with varying emotions that the characters feel.
This film, is as successful as it's predecessors, thanks to the gifted Innaritu, and his muse Bardem this time around, who have both wonderfully captured the nuances and depth of the characters and the intricate story that is the driving force behind this masterfully complex & captivating movie.
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
It's all about death and dying. We can't get away from that, nor avoid it.
Most European directors take much longer to develop character in films than American directors. There are scenes in this film that wordlessly drag on, with panning shots that are longer than what American film directors recommend. But there is nothing wrong with that. This just means it takes longer to watch a European movie and this artpiece is no different.
Uxbal (Javier Bardem) plays the middleman for a counterfeit operation in Barcelona. He works for a few crooked Chinese who manipulate Africans and Chinese who come into the country illegally to work for pennies a day. Uxbal takes his share of the money but he also has a soft heart for the people who live in dark, musty cold basements.
His wife is a drug-dependent, bi-polar prostitute who only thinks about the next trick. Her goal in life is to have fun, despite her two children that love her very much. Unfortunately, Uxbal lovers her, too, and this uneven chemistry gleams throughout this movie.
We learn right away there is something wrong with Uxbal. He is in the late stages of prostate cancer, and his life is flashing him by throughout this movie. He lives what time he has left to redeem himself among the people he also took advantage of earlier, realizing there are many victims left behind doing the work that he does.
Shot in and around Barcelona's slums, there's a lot of touching cinematography in this movie. Smoggy city panoramas, gushing ocean waves, whispering cold mountain pines and loud street scenes that want to take over your auditory nerves. Take all that out and you have a more American-style movie with action and romp but less story and plot.
This is not a movie to watch when depressed, or while grieving the loss of a loved one. There is more to this movie than what I have just posted, but in the end of this 2:18 hour movie (not including the ten minutes of credits in the end), this is one movie that will haunt your senses for a while.
Crashing waves, whispering pines, dying owls that spit up hairballs. This is life in the real sense.
I rented this via the Amazon Instant Video. I had so many problems watching this movie without it constantly stopping to reload. This may be the last time I rent a movie this way. Great movie, horrible presentation.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Nominated for Oscar's Best Actor in 2010 for his gritty character Uxbal, Javier Bardem never fails to disappoint, but the Oscar went to Colin Firth for the The King's Speech. The film was nominated for Best Foreign Film, but lost to Denmark's In A Better World.
If you feel depressed with this film as some people have, then the director has done his job. You can't possibly feel good, with death looming and the thought of a father leaving his two children to an uncertain dismal world.
Uxbal, separated from his wife, an alcoholic, bipolar with other psychological hang-ups that include whoring around. He is a middle man for the crime world, the black market streets of Spain. He supports two young children in a slum-like apartment building. When he finds out he has prostate cancer, with months to live, he wants to do good for what he has become. He loves his children, but fears the thought of leaving his children to practically nobody, as their mother is a sad, pathetic and abusive.
With just over two hours, this film reaches its intended mark, to make the viewer feel for a man dying and leaving behind his beloved children. There is nothing pretty here, from the exploitative treatment of illegal cheap labor, making knockoffs in pitiful working conditions, sleeping on dirty mattresses in a cold warehouse. What one sees is the gritty, dark and seedy streets of Spain and the corruption up against death and love for family.
This is excellent storyline, well done, and brilliant performances by Javier Bardem and Maricel Alvarez, who plays his messed up wife, Maramba. ......Rizzo
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on September 30, 2011
A beautiful, moving film about the devotion of a father to his children through thick and thin. I was impressed by the actor's range. After all this is the same actor who portrayed a ruthless psycho in No Country For Old Men.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on September 29, 2011
Aunque sí es una película triste, creo que "Biutiful" es una película importante para ver. La película nos enseña las partes de la vida que no queremos ver. Es exactamente por esa razón que creo que es tan importante para ver. Viendo "Biutiful", no puedes evitar las temas incómodas como la depresión de Marambra, la desesperación de los niños, y las repercusiones graves del comercio ilegal. Estoy de acuerdo con la revisión de Mariela Perez-Simons, porque yo también creo que es importante que Uxbal es un héroe complicado. No estoy de acuerdo con Chris Pandolfi y su revisión de la película porque no creo yo que la película hubiera sido mejor por no tener un personaje cerca de morir. Presentado con la historia de un hombre trágicamente desafortunado y enfermo, el público puede entender mejor que la vida puede ser muy injusto. Creo que la mensaje más importante de la película es que no importa lo mal que sea la vida, uno debe vivir lo mejor que pueda para los que ama.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Chalk up another movie that I don't think I ever want to see again. Not because it's a bad movie. In fact, it's a very good movie. Javier Bardem proves once again he is one of the best actors working today. He plays a low level facilitator who acts as a middle man to supply non-union workers to various construction trades in Barcelona. He does this by supplying illegal Chinese and African aliens. This is his job so he takes the payoffs, part of which goes to the authorities, especially the police that look the other way. He also is responsible for a daughter about 12 and a son about 7 as his estranged wife is bipolar and a sometime addict. Uxbal (Bardem), if he doesn't have enough problems, is diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer. Oh yeah, he can also talk to the dead, at least the recent dead who haven't quite made the journey away from their physical self. This is actually a second job as he often gets paid to relay the final words. There are also a lot of characters in the story including 2 Chinese gay dudes, one of which has a house full of family. Since this is Alejandro Gonzalez Inarrutu putting this all together, I guess we shouldn't be too surprised by the plot overload. The movie is a well done technical achievement but the scenes and subject matter are grim and overly depressing. We don't get much of a break from the despair and bleak lives of everyone involved. The setting is the city slums and after two and a half hours I wanted out. Bardem is a wonder to watch and is in virtually every frame. He is aided nicely by Maricel Alvarez as his skanky wife. In the end Uxbal tries to do the right thing and plan for his demise and the ultimate care of his children. In a touching scene with his daughter he tells her to please remember him. Isn't that what we all want ultimately?
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on June 3, 2011
Javier Bardem does provides us with a reliably wonderful performance. He is such a good actor!
I am giving this film four stars and not five because I honestly did not like the way I felt after viewing this film. I felt such a sense of hopelessness and despair. I guess I should give it five stars for how incredible this movie was at invoking so much emotion in me. People who want to view a movie that ends with a glimmer of hope should avoid this film. This movie didn't make me shed tears, it's not a tearjerker but rather a 'leave you apathetic and hopeless - you hope never to have a life like this guy' type of movie.
I found it a bit odd that a fairly young man Uxbal was dying of prostate cancer. I am not sure of his age but assuming he is in his forties, it is very rare for a man to have stage four prostate cancer. But then again, perhaps that was supposed to add to yet another one of his short "end of the sticks" which he seemed to suffer in abundance in this film. His (ex)wife is a mess, his brother is sleeping with his wife, he is threatened on a daily basis with his illegal 'job', he lives in poverty, he has two mouths to feed and then is told he has just a couple months to live.
In spite of his underground/illicit lifestyle he is a man with a good heart. He cares about his children, his friends and family and tries hard to be a man of his word.
I'm glad I saw this film and Javier was excellent. But it is not a movie that I would buy or watch again. Some movies are ones you only need to see once.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 9, 2011
I found "Biutiful" to be just that, beautiful! Good movie, great actors and very touching;somewhat of a love story. Although I speak Spanish, I rented the version with the subtitles and found myself looking at the subtitles for the closeness of the translations. Very close!
24 of 34 people found the following review helpful
At times, it's difficult to summarize your thoughts about a specific film. It isn't because the film is necessarily so good or bad that it's beyond words, but because you're unsure how to feel about said film until the credits finally roll. Biutiful is such a film.
Biutiful, its spelling having a simple yet somewhat brilliant explanation, features a lot of symbolism that will go over viewers heads. It also is incredibly similar to Iñárritu's previous works such as 21 Grams and Babel in both style and tone. The drama is beyond bleak and practically hopeless. The out of tune soundtrack, the rocks Uxbal gives to his children, and people clutching to the ceiling will leave many scratching their heads. Many ideas seem to be hinted at, but are never fully fleshed out like reflections and shadows moving out of sync from their source. However, the film is driven by Bardem's emotionally draining, physical, and all around powerful performance.
The scene that really makes the entire film worthwhile is the scene in the Chinese warehouse right before Uxbal visits his brother's strip club. It's the most effective, long-lasting, and memorable scene in the film. In the same breath though, what was up with the sound? It was like it was purposely terrible at certain points in the film. At times, it seemed significant to showcase the sound of the characters' heartbeats, but just felt sloppy the one or two other times it occurred. There were also quite a few memorable quotes in the film including, "It's dangerous to trust a man who's hungry."
Biutiful is an unusual drama that is both confusing at times and ridiculously intriguing at others. A vigorously passionate performance by Javier Bardem may not be enough to save what is otherwise a sometimes mindboggling and hellacious journey through the eyes of what seems like the most unlucky man in the world. Even in comparison to his other works, Biutiful seems even more bleak and dreary than Iñárritu's other works. What's bizarre is that the film does give you a strange sense of hope. No matter how bad you think your life currently is or was, this film proves that it can always be worse even if the presentation is more than a little mentally and emotionally exhausting. It's also interesting to note that even though the film leans more to the bizarre side while being downright depressing, it does make a long-lasting impression and sticks with you as you contemplate scenes and occurrences in the film days after you've seen it.