|REVIEWS - MOVIES|
From the London Film Festival, Javier Bardem stars in an exceptional tale from the director of 21 Grams...
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu returns to his native language in Biutiful, after his last two English language features, Babel and 21 Grams. Dedicated to his “beautiful old oak father”, Biutiful tells the story of prostate cancer sufferer Uxbol's struggle to provide a future for his children.
Able to relay messages from the dead, Uxbol's main source of income is acting as a middle-man organising the selling on of immigrant sweatshop produce. His bipolar drunken “masseuse” wife, Maramba, although now apparently “clean” for five months, is far from capable of looking after their children and as a result lives separately. With only a few months left and chemo merely temporarily maintaining his quality of life, Uxbal tries to earn as much money as possible in the short time he has but is faced with a whole host of obstacles. He's also partially responsible for Ige's future – a friend's wife abandoned after her husband is deported back to Senegal.
Uncharacteristically, Inarritu moves away from weaving a series of thematically-driven inter-related stories together and concentrates on the linear development of one character. Javier Bardem gives an Oscar-deserving performance as Uxbol, in this distressing tale of morality and mortality. As always, Inarritu explores the poverty and racism his characters' lives are immersed in. Shooting in an exceedingly grimy Spanish suburb with flaking, crumbling, burnt-out and overcrowded houses, Inarritu captures the corruption of local police who accept bribes and view immigrants as “minimal wage ants - fuck them.”
Fast-moving dizzying police chases on foot complement experimental-sounding music and distorted images to depict the city's mean streets after particularly disturbing scenes involving the immigrants' warehouse basement “home”. Amid the poverty, Inarritu captures the decadent party club culture corrupt bosses enjoy with a colourful surreal scene, including dancers with breasts painted on their behinds. A series of strikingly framed snapshot images capture the strangely beautiful pathos of Uxbal's surroundings.
Biutiful is very carefully constructed, demonstrating the significance of individual word choices and extracting every ounce of emotion from viewers. With all ends neatly tied, despite the film's long running-time it's impossible not to yearn for more in an attempt to avoid an inevitably crushing finale that somehow manages to boast a hint of ambiguity. Biutiful is not to be approached lightly but will reward the curious with its spiritually uplifting conclusion.
Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
Writer: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Armando Bo, Nicolas Giacobone
Distributor: Optimum Releasing
Running Time: 138 mins
Starring: Javier Bardem, Marciel Alvarez, Eduard Fernandez
We currently have no release information for 'Biutiful'
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