Written and directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu
Screening at from 28th January 2011
This is a compelling but bleak portrait of a man who has the odds heavily
stacked against him in life.
Uxbal (Javier Bardem, who starred in No
Country For Old Men) gives a highly impressive and charismatic
performance as a street hustler, who operates in the gutter life of Barcelona.
At heart he is a decent man, searching for salvation amid the squalid
environment he endures; his only real comfort being the love he shows
for his two young children, who live with him, having separated from his
mentally deranged wife.
Burdened with many problems - not least that he has been diagnosed with
terminal cancer - he ekes out an existence, managing a group of drug selling
Senegalese illegal immigrants and a couple of Chinese gangmasters, who
house and exploit a bunch of Chinese people smuggled into Spain.
Barcelona is shown as being very far from the image usually portrayed.
Apart from the glamour and high culture usually associated with the city,
it is instead a grubby world of overcrowded ghettos, tacky strip clubs,
small-time gangsters and corrupt cops.
One of the most profound points of the film - impressively directed by
Alejandro González Iñárritu (21
Grams) and photographed impeccably by Rodrigo Prieto - is when
Uxbal and his brother view the embalmed figure of their dead father, preserved
as a twenty-year-old man.
The climax of Biutiful also conjures up the dream-like image of his father
talking to Uxbal as he is now. A magical ending to a majestic film.