Biutiful review by Alyse Garner - Cinema Paradiso
Biutiful is a Spanish language film about a troubled father’s struggle in the final months of his life. Directed by Mexican Alejandro González Iñárritu the film takes the audience through the painful and dispersed life of Uxbal (Javier Bardem) as he attempts to understand his place in the world.
As anyone who has seen Iñárritu’s 2006 film Babel will know he has his own take on tragedy and Biutiful is no different. The sorrowful tale of the final months of Uxbal’s life is played out in a slow melee of intertwined characters and incidents, each one demonstrating the good hearted nature of the lead character.
As with any story worth telling things do not pass by uncomplicated. Uxbal is estranged from his severely depressed wife, whilst, in order to pay the bills, he has become involved in illegal immigrant trafficking. In both situations, however, Uxbal demonstrates strength of character many would lack in such positions. The film explores his sense of conscious and spirituality, focusing the story on the love between a father and his children.
Throughout the film Uxbal strives to do what is best for his children, whilst his own fathers’ premature death has left him with an emptiness in his life.
Iñárritu’s use of sound also helps to beautifully accent the emotional intensity of this movie. Both a chillingly melodic piano and almost total absence of sound are used to make you feel as though all of your senses have been overwhelmed by emotion. Visually the film contrasts a peaceful snowscape with the sunlit metropolis of Barcelona. Adding to this visual intensity the still beautiful Bardem is heartbreakingly perfect for the role. His good looks and down to earth portrayal of Uxbal do nothing but make the empathy felt for him more visceral.
Some may find the film too slow, as very little actually appears to happen throughout it’s nearly two and a half hour runtime. However the pace of the film simply adds to its sense of grace; providing the audience with enough time to fully appreciate the monumentally tragic situation facing Uxbal.