January 13, 2001. Times war photographer Harvey Jacobs is wounded while witnessing a massacre at Nuevo Colon by terrorists. In a desperate effort, the United Nations sends a vehicle to get ... See full summary »
Uxbal, single father of two children, finds his life in chaos as he is forced to deal with his life in order to escape the heat of crime in underground Barcelona, to break with the love for the divorced, manic depressive, abusive mother of his children and to regain spiritual insight in his life as he is diagnosed with terminal cancer. Written by
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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