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So, I found it necessary to write a review for this film. I never wrote reviews to anything and probably will never write again. I saw the score for this movie on IMDb and it was a 7.4, I as well remember when the movie played it did not cause a particular stir beside the Oscar nomination it received. In order to evaluate this film one has to consider the purpose of films and art in general. It is my belief that the best art causes us to feel, to have an emotional experience. So often I went to films, concerts, and art exhibits better or worse and came out of them with an empty feeling. Nothing happened to me. "What did I just pay for" echoes in my mind. I will go further and say that a film that does not cause this emotional response is not art. It may have been created artfully but it is not art. This film is art! It is probably one of the best films that were ever made. It is not perfect but it does not matter. The story, the acting and the directing have the guts of a Shostakovich symphony. This movie deals with the reality of existence. With real death and not the generic Hollywood version of it. It deals with the love for your children and trying to protect them as much as one can from a monstrous world. It as well found a way to show the mystery and mystic of existing in times we so often take it for granted. There are a handful of movies that even dare to deal with these ideas and none that I recall are as successful. IMDb reviewers can give it a 7.4 or a 2.4 but this film will eventually find its place as a monumental artistic achievement in the history of movie making.
Before seeing Alejandro Inarritu's Biutiful, you might want to watch
Luis Bunuel's Milky Way.
What you might see first as a similarity between these two films is a depth in their subject choices from religion to death. Second thing might be a similarity in the way their themes are posed as questions in regards to religion and death. Last similarity, which also constitutes its' contrast is the way it handles their approach to answering such questions.
Where Bunuel's theme of religious question is answered by comedic, symbolic and surrealistic imagery alone, Inarritu's exploration of death is handled by more a less of the same, but with a little something extra.
In one of Biutiful's first scenes we have Javier Bardem as Uxbal sitting across from the ghost of a young boy, asking what exactly is disabling him from moving on into the next life.
The scene cuts before this question is answered by the ghost, but the answer should be obvious and if it's not, then this scene is something to think about, even long after you've watched Biutiful. Ironic, yet essential, even as one of many small symbolic details written into Uxbal's character description is his ability to communicate with death immediately after it's happened because the first question coming from Uxbal in that funeral home is a foreshadowing of what he will be in about ten minutes asking himself for the next two hours.
Besides the images of ghosts and moths he sees in the ceiling, a lot of surrealistic symbolism can be found in the details written into Uxbal's story. Every detail of Uxbal's existence that critics may see as pointless are actually symbols, essential to Biutiful's theme of death and how we should live before it happens.
Before he can move on into the next life he's got things to settle from the company getting ready to build over their past father's burial, to his own two children, along with finally the two immigrant groups he aims to protect from exploitation. With all of this to handle and with only so much time left Uxbal doesn't even have time to tell anybody he is leaving so nobody knows.
All of these ironic details can be seen as another form of symbolism being implemented by Inarritu's style of film and I think it is the closest anybody has come in a long time to a Bunuelian odyssey.
Uxbal (Played by Javier Bardem) is a man in Spain, and to provide for
his two children, has resorted to crime, but underneath, he's
emotionally torn apart. He is struggling to come to grips with his
mortality, and he's hindered by personal roadblocks, including his
abusive, bipolar wife. Not only that, but he is diagnosed with terminal
cancer, given only months to live, and is barely able to keep it a
secret from his children.
The movie is not always easy to watch. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu paints a grim portrait on love and spirituality, but the uncompromising route he took with this movie was probably a beneficial trait. He doesn't shy away from giving the themes presented in the film an intimate look, and he also crafts the movie incredibly, especially thanks to DP Rodrigo Prieto.
The only complaint I'd have to throw at him is that the film is too long. I've got nothing against long movies, but it just felt like the pace of the film needed to pick up. I think it could have been trimmed a bit, and still retained the emotional resonance.
But even if (And this is hypothetical. I still loved the movie) everything else about this movie was pure crap, I would still say go see it just to behold Javier Bardem's performance. He carries the film, and the role beautifully through his understatement. In any of his scenes, one emotion on his face can explain as much as a whole minute of dialogue. It's by far and away one of the best male performances of 2010.
I give Biutiful ***1/2 out of ****
(I read the other reviews and must agree with them in all the excellent qualifications given to actors, cinematography, music and what not (By the way, talking about the music, the credits mention a Santaeulalia as the AUTHOR of the music..., wow, the music is by MAURICE RAVEL!!! and they didn't change a single note from RAVEL original score...!!!). No wonder that nowadays musicians are complaining about author rights... But going back to the movie: Its immensely long, enormously black, fantastically depressing. I lived during many years in Barcelona and even walking down the streets in the Raval neighborhood (I assume that's the quarter used in this film for the street locations) I never saw the ugliness they show in this movie. How could they manage to show Barcelona so awful is beyond my comprehension. Honestly, nowadays most (most, not all) movies are made correctly in all departments, acting, wardrobe, period reenactment, music, etc. So, once we take that for granted, set it aside and look at the entertainment value of a film, having to deal with all these penuries is asking too much from the spectator point of view. What can we do about horrible working conditions for the illegal and exploited Senegalese, for the illegal and exploited Chinese, for our thrashed by life protagonist, about the future of his children, of his wife (all and everyone living a hellish life and already thumbed down by destiny), what about those nightmarish stinky hell holes euphemistically called apartments, with unspeakable wall paper patterns on all the walls (no wonder their inhabitants suffer severe migraines and are continually depressed, taking to the bottle and other substances...). I don't know, I don't want to see these super depressing movies ever again. I can do nothing about the conditions of these poor illegal immigrants (and neither can you) so, what is this, a masochistic depressed viewers show time? If I want to see these kind of social or political issues I go to see a documentary dealing on those issues. Again, the movie is extremely well done (is this director the same that directed the Mexican "Vidas de perros"?! I remember --I was still living in Valencia when I saw this movie-- that coming out of the theater I was looking for a dark corner where I could discretely commit suicide... what a horribly depressing movie, what hideous and horrid characters!!! I never again saw anything equal in blackness!! (save this one and "Precious", but "Precious" is shorter and much better as a movie). Well, decide for yourselves about "Biutiful", it'll be a very personal decision up to each individual sensibility.
Biutiful is a film that shows us the deep connection between a father and their children. He has no money and he finds out that he has no time to fix the mistakes in his life. The film is an excellent portrayal of this factor. Although if it weren't for the talented acting of Javier Bardem and the pristine direction. This movie would have been a very slow and painful film. But the whole picture of the film is to show the slow demise of a human being and the effect it has on his surroundings. This is not a film for the light hearted nor the easily distracted. But if you want a film that will touch your heart and squeeze it dry than this is the film for you. It will not please or entertain you. But it is an excellent contribution to the art of film making.
Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu directed three films before "Biutiful", and
all three of them had essentially the same positives and negatives. On
one hand, the man really knows how to create a scene. From the
intensity that surrounded "Amores Perros" to the unique, riveting and
eye-opening night club scene in "Babel", each of his films were filled
with incredibly memorable moments. He also brings a lot of emotional
heft to each work. Albeit sometimes in cheap, manipulative ways, the
man has never failed at bringing some tears to my eyes in each of his
pictures. "Biutiful" is no different in either of these aspects.
However, it also succeeds where Innaritu's previous films had failed.
His other films are far too bogged down with these silly, contrived
stories of one event having a drastic impact on a slew of characters.
"Biutiful" is his first film without Guillermo Arriaga writing the
script and, as a result, there's none of those silly gimmicks that
Arriaga flooded his previous pictures with. He keeps all of his
strengths as a director and got rid of the flaws that hit his films
from a screen writing standpoint.
What we end up with is a powerful picture that centers on one character, played phenomenally by Javier Bardem. Bardem's performance here is one of grace, bravery and pure authenticity. It's rare for a portrayal to not have a single false note in it, but this is one of those rarities in cinema. From the moment we are introduced to him, Bardem feels absolutely real. The entire film truly feels as though we are just experiencing this man's life with him and while sometimes that can be slightly dull, it never feels artificial. Along with this powerful driving performance at it's core, the film has some of the most beautiful images of the year, emotionally hitting relationships between Bardem's character and his two children and another stirring performance by non-actor Maricel Alvarez. Innaritu has created a film that is heartfelt and real, keeping the power and grittiness of his previous pictures and erasing those things that dragged them down.
Javier Bardem Delivers A Brilliant Performance in 'Biutiful'. The
Academy-Award Winning Star-Actor, delivers his finest performance in
here. It's a performance that is haunting, challenging & devastating.
As a film, 'Biutiful' is hard-hitting and depressing. It's lead character goes through a rough time, and the goings-on are sometimes tough to stomach. But, Filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu, handles the subject with intensity, and is blessed to have an actor like Bardem to back him.
'Biutiful' is the story of Uxbal, played by Bardem, a single father who struggles to reconcile fatherhood, love, spirituality, crime, guilt and mortality amid the dangerous underworld of modern Barcelona -- all before his time is up.
Uxbal is a rough person. He isn't a bad person, but he isn't the best person you'd meet on celluloid. Iñárritu, Armando Bo & Nicolás Giacobone's Screenplay is hard-hitting, at times, gripping and depressing. The Screenplay offers a lot of scope to it's lead character, so much, that he gets to talk with himself all through. Iñárritu's direction is perfect. Cinematography is consistent. Editing is sharp.
Bardem is the greatest thing about 'Biutiful'. He becomes Uxbal from the very first scene, and leaves you spell-bound. An Oscar-Nominated Performance, that deserves distinction marks. Bardem, who also managed to leave his fans awe-struck with his performances in 'The Sea Inside & his Oscar-Winning performance in 'No Country For Old Man', proves his range yet again!
On the whole, A Well-Made, Hard-Hitting film, with Bardem delivering a performance, that can go down as an actor-study in the coming time. Watch It!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Biutiful was truly beautiful. Javier Bardem's character, Uxbal, is portrayed as an upstanding citizen and a caring father doing the best for his two young children despite the fact that he is supporting the hiring of illegal immigrants. The film has fabulous cinematography and the timing of the scene changes is impeccable. I loved how the film started at the end and then ended with the same scene shown from a different angle. The movie draws you in and you can almost feel when he is going to see the ghosts. This movie is complex, dark and heavy but there is still a flicker of hope throughout the film. I think this is my favourite movie by Inarritu.
Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu is known for his signature
multi-protagonist plots introduced in his death trilogy, which included
"Amores Perros," "21 Grams," and "Babel." In "Biutiful," however, he
zooms in on one character, Uxbal, a single father from Barcelona,
facing terminal cancer.
Uxbal is a fascinating character with many good intentions that don't always translate into good deeds. While he truly cares for people (his brother even calls him the Dalai Lama), he actually makes a living from an operation where illegal Senegalese immigrants sell on the streets the counterfeited bags and pirated CDs produced in a sweatshop by a group of frightened Chinese who sleep on the floor of a locked basement.
So yes, Uxbal is a complicated hero, not perfect by any means, but because of Bardem's earnest performance you feel Uxbal's pain, and he also wins you over with the love he so tenderly expresses for his soon-to-be fatherless children, and for the father he never met. And that's what the movie is truly about: parenthood, how people, no matter their nationality, are always concerned with giving their kids a better life. You'll find that most of the characters (from Uxbal, to the police officer, to the sweatshop owner, to the main Senegalese immigrant) are trying to do what's best for their kids. But are their choices moral or even legal? Morality is a big theme here, and the movie will leave you questioning even your own.
To appreciate this film you need to understand Iñárritu's style--bold and bleak and confrontational. He wants to shock you, make you angry, remove you from your comfortable place so you can experience some of the realities millions of people face everyday. Allow him to.
"Biutiful" is worth watching because of the many layers of the story, the stellar performances by Javier Bardem and Maricel Álvarez, and the eye-opening social commentary.
Although it's hard to watch, "Biutiful" is beautiful in many ways, full of lyrical elements, from the first scene to the last.
I've heard quite a lot of raves for Bardem since this film came out, and to this day his performance is seen by many as the rightful winner. I didn't have high expectations for the film, but I still wanted it to be a lot better than it was. It's such a grim and dull affair at times. Sure, it's not without its merits, of those being Bardem who does his best to elevate the material. He's definitely pretty great here, but the material sort of lets him down. It could have been a truly interesting tale of coming to terms with your own mortality and the inevitable, but there's nothing here that is truly "good" or "bad", aside from the central performances. As it is, mixed on it completely
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