Biutiful is a love story between a father and his children. A petty criminal  tries to secure the future of his children before he dies.Review: Watch it for the biutiful performances.

Business rating: 1 star

Star cast: Javier Bardem, Maricel Álvarez.

What’s Good: Javier Bardem’s acting; the edgy camerawork; Alejandro González Iñárritu’s direction.

What’s Bad: The leisurely manner in which the story progresses; the unconventional plot that many might not take to.

Verdict: Biutiful is for a select audience in the Indian metros.

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Loo break: None.

Watch or Not?: If you must, watch it for Javier Bardem’s Oscar-nominated performance.

Biutiful Review

Menageatroz, Focus Features and Universal Pictures’ Biutiful (Spanish; with English subtitles) is the story of a lonely man’s extraordinary trials and tribulations before his impending death.

Uxbal (Javier Bardem) lives in Barcelona, Spain, with his two kids, Ana (Hanaa Bouchaib) and Mateo (Guillermo Estrella). He is separated from his wife, Marambra (Maricel Álvarez), who is an alcoholic and has relations with Uxbal’s brother, Tito (Eduard Fernández). Uxbal makes a living by acting as a middleman for illegal African and Chinese immigrants by helping them find employment and lodging in the teeming metropolis. He also earns some money by working as a psychic because he can see the deceased and talk to them. Things take a turn for the worse when Uxbal discovers that he is a terminal cancer patient with only a couple of months left.

Then, Uxbal starts stacking money for his children, makes a failed attempt to reconcile with his wife and with Tito. He even tries to help his immigrant friends get a better deal. In spite of all this, fate does not unravel the way he wants it to. In the end, even his being a psychic does not help.

Biutiful Review (Biutiful Movie Stills)

Script & Screenplay – Biutiful Review

Alejandro González Iñárritu, Armando Bo and Nicolás Giacobone’s screenplay is very unconventional. But, if you have seen Iñárritu’s previous films – Amores Perros, 21 Grams or Babel – you know what to expect. The story is wafer-thin, but Javier Bardem’s excellent performance as the conflicted Uxbal, and Rodrigo Prieto’s edgy camerawork make the film watchable. Of course, the Indian masses will not relate to the film’s slow pace and multi-layered screenplay. As such, the film has restricted appeal, only meant for the connoisseurs of good international cinema. This does not mean that the screenplay is bland or devoid of dramatic twists and turns. One does not foresee the horrific fate that Uxbal’s Chinese friends meet with, and also the uncanny climax.

Star Performances – Biutiful Review

Maricel Álvarez does well as the wife. Eduard Fernández, Cheikh Ndiaye (as Uxbal’s friend) and Diaryatou Daff (as the African immigrant) are good. The kids, Hanaa Bouchaib and Guillermo Estrella, also act very naturally.

Direction and Music – Biutiful Review

Alejandro González Iñárritu’s direction is stellar and will be appreciated by the elite audience but not by the masses. He manages to keep the viewer engrossed in the travails of one man because of the way in which he unravels the story, never giving a complete picture of what’s happening. That and Gustavo Santaolalla’s background score create a world where all of Uxbal’s pains seem plausible. Stephen Mirrione’s editing is good.

The Last Word
All in all, Biutiful is good art-house cinema. In its limited release in India, it might see a few footfalls because of its two Oscar nominations, but that’s about it.

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