Biutiful

"Very Good"

Biutiful Review


While this gentle drama about a man trying to prepare his family for his own death is plaintive and hopeful, the road to the end is both too long and too packed with distracting sidestories.

Even before his doctor tells him he has terminal cancer, Uxbal (Bardem) is struggling to manage a team of illegal African immigrants who sell fake designer products made by illegal Chinese immigrants in secret factories. He does this to care for his young children (Bouchaib and Estrella), while his bipolar ex Marambra (Alvarez) works as a prostitute. Meanwhile, Uxbal and his brother Tito (Fernandez) are selling the burial plot of the father they never knew. But this only stirs Uxbal's emotions even further.

While the premise sounds depressing, Inarritu refuses to wallow in misery, focussing on complex relationships and dark irony. It's shot with a striking visual style that blends gritty photography with subtle, chilling effects. And Bardem's performance is full of life. His interaction with other characters is complicated and revealing, and as we watch him grow more haggard and stressed, he somehow develops more of an internal spark, even if it's buried deep inside.

Along the way, strong side stories emerge. A Chinese boss (Cheng) is being manipulated by his gay assistant (Luo). A Senegalese couple (Ndiaye and Daff) is threatened by legal issues. There are also dirty cops and chaotic police raids, plus a preoccupation with death, since one of Uxbal's hidden talents is an ability to communicate beyond the grave. But all of this detracts from Uxbal's already wrenching situation, because the immigration theme threatens to swamp the more intimate, emotional story as the film goes on and on.

By contrast, the scenes of Uxbal trying to prepare his family for the future are earthy, funny and often very touching. We can understand Uxbal's paralysing fear of telling anyone about his illness; not only is there never a good time to deliver this news, but because of Maramba's illness and his own dodgy business the children's future isn't looking very bright. But as he finds inner peace, we see hope for them too.



Biutiful

Facts and Figures

Genre: Foreign

Run time: 148 mins

In Theaters: Friday 22nd October 2010

Box Office USA: $5.1M

Distributed by: Roadside Attractions

Production compaines: Televisió de Catalunya (TV3), Menageatroz, Mod Producciones, Focus Features, Ikiru Films, Televisión Española (TVE)

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 64%
Fresh: 92 Rotten: 51

IMDB: 7.5 / 10

Cast & Crew

Starring: as Uxbal, as Marambra, Hanaa Bouchaib as Ana, Guillermo Estrella as Mateo, Eduard Fernández as Tito, Cheikh Ndiaye as Ekweme, Diaryatou Daff as Ige, Cheng Tai-Shen as Hai, Jin Luo as Liwei, George Chibuikwem Chukwuma as Samuel, Lang Sofia Lin as Li, Yodian Yang as Chino Obeso, Tuo Lin as Barman Bar Hai, Xueheng Chen as Chino Bodega, Xiaoyan Zhang as Jung, Ailie Ye as Padre Hai, Xianlin Bao as Madre Hai, Ana Wagener as Bea, as Zanc, as Mendoza, Nasser Saleh as Muchacho, Tomás del Estal as Hombre de Luto, Ángel Luis Arjona as Niño Muerto, Dolores Echepares as Señora Funeral, Adelfa Calvo as Mujer Grande, Manolo Solo as Médico, Violeta Pérez as Enfermera, Germán Almendros as Cirujano 1, Isaac Alcayde as Cirujano 2, Nacho Moliné as Cirujano 3, Carmen La Lata as Vieja, Annabel Totusaus as Secretaria Fincas, Eduardo Gómez as Hombre Semidesnudo, Ramón Elies as Empleado Cementerio 1, Juan Vicente Sánchez as Empleado Cementerio 2, Félix Cubero as Burócrata, Carmen Peleteiro as Mesera, Federico Muñoz as Alcalde, Leticia Albizuri as Chica Joven 2, Maria Casado as Presentadora Informativos, Judith Huertas as Reportera Informativos, Aroa Ortiz as Bailarinas Stripper Bar, Victoria M. Díaz as Bailarinas Stripper Bar, Sonia Cruz as Bailarinas Stripper Bar, as Bailarinas Stripper Bar, Luna Jimémez Colindres as Bailarinas Stripper Bar, Dunia Montenegro as Bailarinas Stripper Bar, Rodica Ioana Ungureanu as Bailarinas Stripper Bar, Albert Grabuleda Capdevila as Mosso d'Esquadra Antidisturbio (uncredited), Alain Hernández as (uncredited), Pitu Princess as Plañidera (uncredited), Jesus Puchol as Mosso d'Esquadra (uncredited)

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