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A 2011 movie directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu

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Death...is the road to depression, bleak-ness, and an audience that will run and scream on sight.

  • Jun 7, 2011
***1/2 out of ****

"Biutiful", the new film from Spanish director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, plays out as some kind of test. A test of patience, a test of morality, or be it a test of our ability to perceive a film; "Biutiful" never stops testing in its decently lengthy running time. It's as ambitious and bold as any other Inarritu feature, and about as good as one too. Inarritu has made one of his best films yet with "Biutiful", which is as dreary as modern movies get.

Movies are seldom depressing and bleak because that is not the kind of film that most people want to watch. Thus, "Biutiful" is a movie that most move-goers and movie-watchers alike will not want to see once, much less twice. It is an almost silent portrayal of overbearing sadness, and barrages the viewer with a relentless feeling of emptiness and sorrow. This is not cinema meant to entertain, or to please anyone. This is cinema meant to provoke, and to make the viewer feel. If this is indeed the case, then I must admit, "Biutiful" does its job rather well.

But of course, it does not do this job without being one of the single most depressing films I've ever seen. The plot concerns Uxbal (Javier Bardem, of "No Country for Old Men" fame), a man who has so many shit situations on his hands, to the point where it all accumulates to one big situation that a certain four letter word cannot possibly describe. His wife is bipolar, and thus they have decided to not live together. Uxbal's children have taken this life-style to negative levels, as the separation has clearly affected them for the worst. And then there's Uxbal's sympathy for the illegal immigrants. He wishes for them not to be deported, and he takes it upon himself to make sure that this does not happen.

Perhaps I should also mention that Uxbal has been diagnosed with terminal cancer, and he is slowly counting down the days to his death. I do not think that Uxbal anticipates the day when he kicks the bucket, although he is stressful in preparing his children for this day. He also struggles to keep this diagnosis a secret from them, for as long as he can manage.

This is a complicated story about complicated things. The presence of Uxbal is depressing and bleak enough. Yet I shall not call the character unlikable. I say this because, through all his struggles, there's still some essential decency within me that allows me to be sympathetic towards this character. I suppose, in some context, I must thank Bardem for that. His performance allows us to care about Uxbal to the point where we "feel" the guy; or at least feel for him. This may not happen for everyone. Correction: this WILL not happen for everyone. But "Biutiful" has something that most films don't have: a heart...a brain...and another knock-out performance from a down-right wonderful performer.

The film sets a mood that I would not normally ponder caring about. Yet, depression, anxiety, and the fear of death are underlying themes of "Biutiful", and they are ones that shall only appeal to those with open minds. "Biutiful" is not a film that I would recommend to everyone, as it absolutely, positively does not seek to entertain, and therefore it does not. However, I have endless amounts of respect for the film, it is flawlessly made, and the production itself is very personal (to director Inarritu). If you don't like it, then that's just you as a movie-goer. I don't blame you for anything.

Yet, "Biutiful" lives up to its name- or at least the pronunciation of its name. It is a beautiful film; poetic, wonderfully told, and nigh unforgettable. I expect that I will watch it again in the future. I am not one of the movie-watchers who finds the experience absolutely unbearable. I can sympathize for the people who hate the film as much as I can for those who really admire it; because for a moment there, I was nearly torn between not liking the film and really liking it. I made a decision; I chose. There is more humanity in the bleak and ambitious "Biutiful" than there is in more appealing, less slow-moving flicks. But those are flicks. "Biutiful" is not a flick. It is- and I say this out of all respect within me- a film.

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More Biutiful reviews
review by . January 30, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
A Marathon of Despair, Self-Loathing And Remorse Of A Dying Man...
Films that depict a bleak, real and depressing story have always held an attraction to me. Not exactly sure as to why, but it seems like I may not be the only one since director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s second feature film after “Babel” and his first Spanish language directed film since Amores Perros has been nominated in the Best Foreign Language film category in 2011’s Academy awards. “Biutiful” is a film about a man who is dying from cancer and has only …
review by . February 17, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
This movie isn't intended for people who plan to see Just Go With It or The Eagle. This movie is entrenched with misery and tragedy and followed by death. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu leaves nothing to chance in his effort to display tragedy of the human spirit. Everything about this movie from the characters to the environment is falling apart and there is little to do but sit there and be weighted down by people just trying to survive.   Inarritu tells the story of …
review by . January 29, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Star Rating:         In spite of the cumbersome details, Alejandro González Iñárritu's Biutiful is essentially the story of a man who must put his affairs in order before he dies. His name is Uxbal (Oscar nominee Javier Bardem), and he has been diagnosed with advanced-stage cancer, presumably of the prostate. He's a Barcelona career criminal, acting as an intermediary between the underworld and a sweatshop that produces phony designer handbags …
Quick Tip by . February 13, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
In case anyone wanted a little more insight into how the film was made, here is a link to my interview with Biutiful's beautiful star, Javier Bardem ... http://blacksheepreviews.blogspot.com/2011/0...iews-javier-bardem.html
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #11
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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About this movie


  • Opened January 28, 2011 | Runtime:2 hr. 27 min.
  • R
    For disturbing images, language, some sexual content, nudity and drug use
  • A man tries to reconcile his desire to be good with his lawless ways in this dark drama from Mexican auteur Alejandro González Iñárritu. Uxbal (Javier Bardem) is a man with a bright side and a dark side. Uxbal is a caring father but Uxbal is also a criminal who oversees a small underground empire alongside fellow crime boss Hai (Taisheng Cheng) and Uxbal's impulsive brother, Tito (Eduard Fernández). Uxbal's dealings range from drugs to construction, but unlike his partners in crime, he tries to treat those around him with dignity even as he trades in human misery. Uxbal's precarious world begins to collapse when he's diagnosed with a serious illness and told he has only a few weeks left to live; he tries to put his affairs in order in the time he has left, but realizes that few around him have any sense of responsibility.
  • Cast: Javier Bardem, Maricel Álvarez, Eduard Fernández, Diarytou Daff, Cheng Taishen
  • Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
  • Genres: Psychological DramaDramaFamily Drama
  • Poster art for "Biutiful."
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