Javier Bardem gives a gutsy performance in the gritty drama Biutiful. I liked this film from the incisive beginning to the heartfelt ending. Acting, directing and especially the cinematography are the building blocks for this story of a man struggling to keep his children.
The movie centers on Uxbal (Bardem), a beleaguered man living and existing in a world of danger. His only means of survival in the Barcelona ghetto depends on the contacts he makes and the devious deals he has to abide by. His drug-addicted wife Marambra (Maricel Alvarez) can’t take care of herself much less her children, but still she takes turns watching the kids so Uxbal can make his crooked deals. When his illness starts to get the better of him, he has to make some uncompromising decisions.
Bardem puts all of his strength into the character overshadowing everything he has done previously in films. With the help of director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Amores Perros) he pulls off an amazing performance that startles and finally endears. Inarritu’s choice of locations shows a very graphic lifestyle that helps show his main character as a desperate man in a dangerous situation.
But, even with the excellent acting and direction, the film would not have been as prolific had it not been for Director of Photography Rodrigo Prieto (Lust Caution, State of Play). Prieto tells the ruthless story using the worn ghetto as his canvas showing the uncompromising danger, sadness and realistic violence.
The film is rated R for disturbing images, language, some sexual content, nudity and drug use so only mature adults should go to see the film. The movie is in Spanish with English subtitles.
FINAL ANALYSIS: A must see film for those who crave realistic life dramas. (B)
Film Editor John Delia has been on all sides of the movie business from publications to film making. He has worked as a film critic with ACED Magazine for more than 11 years and earned a Bachelors degree in communications from the University of Florida. John is a member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association. Follow John on Twitter @staragent1 or send John a message at firstname.lastname@example.org