It is very frustrating to me when the collective "art mentality" raves about such a film being of epic depth, or philosophically/intellectually stimulating. This film meanders aimlessly -- a wallowing journey of despair, misery, and hopelessness. Don't waste 2.5 hours waiting and wanting this film to improve or deliver a worthy denouement. It is absolutely horrible.
I am a patron of the arts, and I believe in "ars gratia artis," however it is ostensibly lemming pretentiousness when people view a canvas on which an artist has vomited and call it "good art." Yes, it may be "art," but just because someone says it's art doesn't make it good. Beauty is definitely in the eye of the beholder, and such is the case with this film.
Regarding Javier Bardem's "fine" acting in this film: His brooding persona appears the same as in the movie, "No Country For Old Men," sans the dark psychologically twisted murderer ingredient. This role could've been played just as well by a number of different actors. Bardem's swarthy appearance and throaty voice lend more of a grittiness to the role, but come on—he's perfectly typecast; review his filmography. It's not too much of a stretch to see him in this role. In my opinion, "good acting" is when an actor/actress can become the character (and I don't mean method acting) so as to dissociate as much of their own "self" as possible from the performance that the character, such as Marlon Brando in "The Godfather," Anthony Hopkins in "Silence of the Lambs," Tom Hanks in "Forrest Gump," or Al Pacino in "Scarface."
For those supercilious reviewers who applaud this film's exceptional ability to depict the dismal characteristics of the grim and squalid parts of society: exploitation, meager existence, futility, juxtaposed with thinly veiled ephemeral moments of poignancy, I'm appalled to see that so many people rate this film highly in comparison with other films and docudramas which express and portray these elements more effectively. It's not significantly difficult to create a depressing film and to evoke a catharsis with the audience. Seriously, what do you find that is monumentally profound about this movie?
Save yourself 2.5 hours of depression (unless you like that type of torture)of and watch something else.