Biutiful: Dead man talkingPosted: Updated:
“Biutiful” captures 5 Red Vines for being one of the best films of the year
Death is no stranger to Uxbal. Quite to the contrary, death has been more friend than enemy his whole life. But when the psychic is given two months to live, the news catapults him into a downward spiral of fear, desperation and eventually, reluctant but peaceful submission.
“Biutiful” is Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu’s latest super creative effort. I was particularly moved by one of his earlier, English language films “21 Grams” but that drama was almost a sitcom compared to the bleak, heartbreaking tale “Biutiful.”
From the very start we learn, along with Uxbal that what started out as prostate cancer has spread to so many organs and is so advanced that there is nothing that can be done. He is given 2 months to live and from there embarks on a mad rush to tie up his loose ends, of which there are many.
The welfare of his children is at the top of the list. His estranged wife is battling drug addiction and is in need of care almost as much as the kids. And while he has always hustled to put food on the table, there are problems on that front, too. He and his brother have partnered with Chinese men who harbor illegal immigrants and put them to work in sweat factories, selling the goods on street corners and eventually construction.
His other job is talking to the dead, delivering messages to loved ones left behind. But this is no John Edwards, fresh and clean studio audience scenario. No Uxbal arrives on the scene and communes with the dead while they are laid out in their finest for viewing.
Yet for all his hustling, Uxbal is no hustler. He is the real deal, with tremendous heart and compassion for the living and the dead, the abused and the discarded. As he races around town trying to make as much money as possible to ensure the future welfare of his kids and others he will leave behind, his failing body is a constant reminder that he is running out of time.
Simply put Javier Bardem as Uxbal is “Biutiful.” In a year with more than a handful of great leading male performances, I pick Bardem’s as the very best. It is heart wrenching. From light hearted scenes with his children, to self rage and ultimately quite despair, he is riveting in his naturalness. Not once do you feel Bardem and cast are ‘acting.’ It is exactly why “Biutiful” is so hard to watch. The raw quality of the production makes you care about all these people deeply.
You know, sometimes it’s hard to recommend a film that will leave you feeling so sad and tear soaked but the reward of seeing dramatic acting at it’s very best is worth the trauma to your soul.
"Biutiful" is a Spanish language film with subtitles.
I’M NOT ALONE: Javier Bardem’s performance has been honored with a Best Actor Academy Award nomination and the film has been nominated for Best Foreign film as well.
“Biutiful” is also the Phoenix Film Critics Society’s film of the week, with a score of 8.0 out of a possible 10.
A preview of this movie was provided to me by the studio but it in no way effects my unbiased review.