Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Stars: Javier Bardem, Maricel Álvarez, Hanaa Bouchaib
Javier Bardem talks to ghosts in Biutiful, a starkly emotive film by Alejandro González Iñárritu where the physical and metaphysical realms seem equally desperate.
The ability of Bardem’s grifter character Uxbal to commune with the dead is actually the most calming and least gloomy aspect of a film awash in misfortune and tragedy.
Ironically titled and deliberately misspelled, Biutiful grimly trawls the shadows of illegal immigration, poverty, police corruption, marital and parental dysfunction and mental and physical ills in the shabbier section of Barcelona, where Uxbal and his family live.
Uxbal is like a walking ghost himself, having just received a drastic cancer diagnosis. His long hair streaked with grey, his handsome features drawn by fatigue and poor health, he’s the antithesis of the sexy charmer Bardem played in last summer’s Eat Pray Love. But he’s paradoxically far more attractive as a person and interesting as a character.
Even at a running time of 148 minutes, Biutiful at times seems like a slightly truncated version of what Iñárritu might have originally planned. Yet the loose ends don’t matter when you have a performance as strong as Bardem’s.
Extras include a making-of featurette.