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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
Ordinarily I like these kinds of films about people struggling to overcome the odds of a bad deal.But in this film, Uxbal, the protagonist, has to struggle against every bad thing can ever happen to a person and all in a very short window of time. Death would be a welcome relief. Javier Bardem plays his role extremely well though; I felt his anguish over his children and the immigrants he "managed." His story gets weighed down, unfortunately, by the number of tragedies he must endure and the tasks he must execute. The director could have eliminated/edited a few of the off-point character traits and side stories to streamline the story for impact, which would have helped the film deliver more of a meaningful punch, not less.
In addition, the summary of this movie says Uxbal must suffer a number of tragedies on the way to redemption. I'm not sure there is any redemption here. In Children of Men, the protagonist endures a lot and struggles through his own character defects to protect an black female fugee whose pregnancy provides hope for the human race. We feel joyful at the end of CofM because he has accomplished his task despite the odds. The ending of Biutiful, however, lacks a clear meaning and we're unsure of everyone's fate except for Uxbal's. The experience was depressing.
I gave the movie an 8 because it was beautifully produced and well acted; the story was original, an uncommon view of Barcelona and the immigrants who go there for work under terrible conditions. But I doubt if anyone would want to see this film more than once.
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