Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Starring: Javier Bardem, Marciel Álvarez, Hanaa Bouchaib, Guillermo Estrella
Duration: 148 min.
The journey of Uxbal, a conflicted man who struggles to reconcile fatherhood, love, spirituality, crime, guilt and mortality amidst the dangerous underworld of modern Barcelona.
Biutiful directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu premiered at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, where Javier Bardem was awarded best actor for his incredible performance. It was also nominated for Best Foreign Language Film and Best Actor at the 83rd Academy Awards.
To put it simply, this is a grim and depressing tale of a man diagnosed with an advanced stage of cancer and tries to settle his affairs with the short time he has left. The story is bleak and the visuals are gritty and grainy but the acting is what makes this film beautiful. Bardem delivers an absolutely astonishing performance as Uxbal, a complex character who is part criminal working with illegal immigrant black market workers, psychic who can talk to the recently deceased, and single father of a young son and daughter.
Interestingly, there are two cinematography style changes towards the end of the film. First there is a switch from spherical to anamorphic lenses which occurs at a crucial point in the story serving to isolate Uxbal from the rest of the frame. Then a short time later the aspect ratio widens from 1.85:1 to 2.40:1 for the last half hour as Uxbal's character himself opens up accepting his fate.
Overall, Biutiful is a very technically well crafted film with a masterful acting performance, but a script that lacks focus and a story not nearly as compelling as the acting deserved.