There is dark, there is disturbing and then there is Alejandro González Iñárritu, who seems to be fascinated by the dark side of human nature. His latest movie, Biutiful, is another haunting tale of a man looking for redemption, even when drawn to death.
In Biutiful, Javier Bardem stars as Uxbal, a father of two who has a telepathic connection to the dead, but who makes his money off the labor of illegal immigrants in Spain. When he discovers he's dying of cancer, he sets out to redeem himself, but fate has other plans.
As with Amores Perros and 21 Grams, Biutiful is a gorgeously directed and mesmerizing film. Unlike his previous entries, the movie is more or less chronologically stable, which allows the audience to soak in the characters all the more. The screenplay by Iñárritu, Armando Bo and Nicolás Giacobone is incredibly well done, albeit depressing.
Iñárritu has never been one to dwell on happy moments, and Biutiful is no exception. If there are faults with his approach it's that he likes to drag his characters - and subsequently the audience - through the mud. This is fine, but he seems unwilling to explore the good side of things, even if only momentarily.
Nevertheless, Biutiful is one of the best movies of 2010. It's not as good as his previous efforts, but still a well made picture from beginning to end. It does drag in a few parts and at nearly two and a half hours, a trimming of ten minutes or so would have gone a long way.
Though the movie won't appeal to everyone, Biutiful is most notable for Javier Bardem's performance, which is, simply, breathtaking. He hasn't been talked about much during the early awards season, but Bardem delivers one of his finest performances to date - and it's not as if he doesn't have a few of those to his credit already.
The supporting cast is also superb, even the children, though they exist purely to propel Bardem's character toward his inevitable end.
Biutiful is a mesmerizing, original film, another great movie from Iñárritu, but it's Bardem's performance that deserves the real recognition.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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