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Academy Award® nominee Javier Bardem is Uxbal, a man on the wrong side of the law who struggles to provide for his children on the dangerous streets of Barcelona. As fate encircles him, Uxbal learns to accept the realities of life, whether bright, bad — or biutiful — in this unforgettable Academy Award®-nominated film from director Alejandro González Iñárritu (Amores Perros, 21 Grams and Babel).
A heartbreakingly direct performance by Javier Bardem anchors Biutiful, a film from Mexican auteur Alejandro González Iñárritu (Babel, 21 Grams). Uxbal (Bardem) is not an admirable man: he's a criminal middleman, helping human traffickers and illicit street peddlers in Barcelona. But in the thick of his corrupt and compromised world, Uxbal strives to do some modest good: he demands heaters for the cold basement where illegal Chinese laborers sleep and he carefully scrapes together money for his children, whom he deeply adores. On top of all this, Uxbal can commune with the recently dead, and tries to pass on reassurance to the bereaved. When Uxbal himself is diagnosed with severe cancer, he desperately tries to leave behind something better for his children. This plot summary paints a bleak picture, and there's no question this is--much like Iñárritu's other films, including Amores Perros--an emotionally harrowing experience. But Biutiful is also visually rich and deeply humane, and holds moments of grace that can only be found in sadness and loss. The entire cast brings a fullness of life to all of the characters, no matter how briefly they appear, but Bardem almost never leaves the screen and carries the movie with magnetic force. --Bret Fetzer
• Theatrical trailer
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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.