“Biutiful” is Inarritu’s Beautiful Elegy by Joseph Misuraca

Posted on April 23, 2012


Alejandro González Iñárritu’s 2010 film Biutiful is one of the most moving and captivating films you will ever see. I may be biased reviewing this Mexican director’s fourth feature film because I adore his previous works, his ‘Death Trilogy’ which is comprised of Amores Perros (2000), 21 Grams (2003) and Babel (2006). He is, I believe, a major force in the movie industry, especially in the arena of world cinema, and has made considerable contributions to the genre of art-house and the Hispanic film market.

A poster for “Biutiful”.

His characters are completely flawed, earthy, their problems are heartbreaking, relatable (perhaps sometimes a tad unrealistic or exaggerated – for artistic reasons), the storylines are intricate, the settings are usually bleak, grimy and the directing is spot on. For this production, he shot the entire film in Spain, mainly in Barcelona, Badalona and Navarre. This, unlike its predecessors, is linear and has a circular structure which holds symbolic relevance.
Uxbal (Javier Bardem) is raising his two children, Mateo (Guillermo Estrella) and Ana (Hanaa Bouchaib). He is involved in underworld activities, such as housing Chinese immigrants illegally in a warehouse to participate in slave labour. He is responsible for giving the police and officials bribes to run his business. He is informed by his specialist that he has prostate cancer and it is terminal. His ex-wife, Marambra (Marciel Álvarez), is an alcoholic prostitute who suffers from bipolar disorder. She is incapable of taking care of their family. Now he needs to arrange for someone to parent his children as he prepares for his imminent death. There are several interesting subplots unfolding beneath this main plot, surrounding some of the other characters in this dirty and grim reality.

Bardem and his onscreen children.

Javier Bardem’s performance is a knock-out. He should have won the Oscar for Best Actor (no offence to Colin Firth who did a great job in The King’s Speech). The supporting actors were equally strong and credible in their roles. Biutiful is spine-tingling and a masterfully crafted film. Hopefully Iñárritu will continue to make feature films and maybe he should steer his material into a different direction, perhaps a work which is poignant yet brightened with a touch of humour and new subject matter. Nevertheless, Biutiful is a jewel in the crown of this decade’s films.

Joseph Misuraca is a freelance writer and a You’re Dripping Egg contributor. Joesph enjoys writing for YDE about breath-taking and affecting cinema. For more of his work, check out his review of The Lovely Bones.

Posted in: Movies