Rated R 147 min. 2011

The picture Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu paints of Barcelona in his new film Biutiful is anything but. Iñárritu’s is a dystopian landscape of dank, filthy streets, chaos, and darkness that seems to trap the characters inside a snow globe of despair. You feel trapped, like Uxbal (the inspired, revelatory Javier Bardem), in the hopelessness of this place. Uxbal and his morally suspect brother Tito (Eduard Fernandez) are a pair of half-baked hoods who profit from Barcelona’s black market, taking money from Chinese sweatshop owners and Senegalese street vendors to pay off the city’s corrupt police officers. The work is clearly an emotional hardship for Uxbal, who feels deeply for the plight of the immigrants he sees exploited and abused, especially the young Chinese mother Liwei (Luo Jin). Liwei has a small child and routinely looks after Uxbal’s 10-year-old daughter and her little brother. But that’s not all that Uxbal has to bear. He is also able to communicate with the dead (those not up for heartache-heaped-upon-heartache may find all of this a bit much) and helps the recently departed move from one realm into another. And Uxbal is also raising his two young children nearly single-handedly, without help from his unbalanced, promiscuous, irresponsible wife Marambra (Maricel Alvarez). When Uxbal finds out that he is also dying of prostate cancer, an already dire and unpredictable world becomes even more so. Like the dead people he helps navigate the afterlife, Uxbal must contemplate his own transition from the world of the living to the world of the dead, and it is as difficult and fraught as anything he has witnessed as a medium.

Film Credits

Official Site:

Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu

Writer: Alejandro González Iñárritu and Armando Bo

Producer: Fernando Bovaira, Alejandro González Iñárritu and Jon Kilik

Cast: Javier Bardem, Félix Cubero, Blanca Portillo, Rubén Ochandiano, Martina García, Manolo Solo, Karra Elejalde, Eduard Fernández, Piero Verzello and Ana Wagener



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