You can give up, let yourself go, grit your teeth and hang on like stupid people do.
Biutiful is a drama jointly written by Alejandro González Iñárritu, Armando Bo, Nicolás Giacobone and directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu. The film stars Javier Bardem, Maricel Alvarez (Little Miracles), Hanaa Bouchaib, Guillermo Estrella, and Eduard Fernandez creating a compelling story, about a single father with two children, diagnosed end-stage cancer, which guides his every move.
Uxbal handles everyone, including the dead. He has a gift allowing him to speak to the recently deceased. A gift, it seems, that has rendered itself a curse. For he can see his death before him, and it is also the motivation for his last interactions with the people in his life. It seems like life is a paradox for Uxbal: he is involved in the exploitation of illegal Chinese immigrants–working in an old warehouse sweatshop, which bootlegs movies and designer handbags–which is sold on the streets of Barcelona by illegal Senegalese drug dealers.
The binding emotions present in this film are that Uxbal genuinely cares about each and every one of these people. He governs his daily routines, one after the other, even advocating for heaters for the sweatshop workers so they would not be cold in the sealed basement they sleep in. With part of the money he earns from this gracious exploitation, he pays a crooked cop on the side so that the Senegalese can sell their wares uninterrupted.
Amidst all the drama that is his unscrupulous lifestyle–there is a moral element here that he balances in at the same time, like mixing the good with the bad. As he deals with his terminal illness in silence–he is there every day to bring his kids to and from school. On top of all that, he has to deal with his bipolar ex-wife (Maricel Alvarez) and brother (Eduard Fernandez), who is better off, financially, than Uxbal. He, however, behaves irresponsibly, and it does not help that he fools around with Uxbal’s ex-wife.
Biutiful is just as much about Uxbal’s spiritually guided actions just as it is about his terminal prognosis. He is aiming to redeem himself, somehow, and trying to settle the debts in this world before he dies. To resolve his debts in the best way he knows how, but there is so much going on, and problems escalate and parallel to other problems that it seems too heavy of a burden to bear, even if he were healthy. But this is what makes this film a pleasant and endearing one to watch.
You will not only observe the dynamics and difficulties of Uxbal’s business, but you will begin to empathize with the reason for what he is doing–for the love of his children and the people he exploits. Bardem is brilliant in his role as Uxbal and performed his role as if second nature. The social degradation and intensity of the social dynamics all together–Bardem never once lead you to believe otherwise, that everything that was happening, right there in front of you, was from a life other than the unfortunate hand that Uxbal was dealt. In fact, I will have to commend each and every cast member involved in this film. Its content and context were both tediously substantial to watch, and you felt every emotional hardship delivered onscreen. This much I can give you–however, you will need to watch this film for yourself to appreciate its artistic magnitude and the firm theme of morality.
Iñárritu wrote and directed Biutiful in a fantastic, yet depressing melancholy. This movie is emotionally dark and yet worth over 2 hours it took to watch, and Iñárritu seems to have a knack for themes that revolve around death and atonement. But never matter the subject, Biutiful serves as an excellent example of social realism’s and filmed intensity, engaging to watch, and causes me to feel tremendously privileged to have watched Biutiful. I haven’t seen Iñárritu’s other films (Babel, 21 Grams) to compare, and I cannot compare Biutiful to any other film I have seen before. It is a stand alone magnificence, and as I review this movie, cannot do it proper justice. The film is just that emotionally engaging and satisfying–do not expect to watch it as a method of relaxation. It demands your full attention. It is worthy of every ounce of it.
Biutiful will leave you pining for your most beloved, and never again take their life and love, for granted.