All I could think after watching this film is that I needed to see some beauty in the world before I just walked off a cliff… Yes there’s darkness in the world but does it really need to be THAT dark? Where is the joy? The happiness? The LIFE part of life? Bad things do happen and inIñárritu’s own way they are very beautiful but it’s a hard to commit to a film like this because of just how relentless it is. It’s a brave move for Iñárritu and Bardem, with beautiful aspects, but is it worth it…

The Players:

  • Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
  • Writer: Alejandro González Iñárritu, Armando Bo, Nicolás Giacobone
  • Actors: Javier Bardem, Maricel Álvarez, Hanaa Bouchaib, Guillermo Estrella, Eduard Fernández, Cheikh Ndiaye, Diaryatou Daff
  • Music by: Gustavo Santaolalla
  • Cinematography by: Rodrigo Prieto

The Plot:

This is a story of a man in free fall. On the road to redemption, darkness lights his way. Connected with the afterlife, Uxbal is a tragic hero and father of two who’s sensing the danger of death. He struggles with a tainted reality and a fate that works against him in order to forgive, for love, and forever.

The Good:

  • Javier Bardem: He’s honest, vulnerable and once again shows that he’s incredibly interesting to watch even through difficult material. Once again he gives one hell of a performance and his charisma shines through in this film, making him watchable even when the film keeps pushing him further and further into nothingness.
  • Beautiful Shots: There is no doubt that Biutiful is quite beautiful. Iñárritu and his cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto do an absolutely amazing job of making just about every shot in this film a portrait. From the amazing use of colors, to the way they shot the city itself, you felt as if you could almost smell the world around you because the picture was so rich.
  • Power in Honesty: There are a lot of hard truths to accept in this film, and they do a good job of keeping the characters honest. No one ever really becomes a hero and though our lead character tries to do right, he’s faulted. Everything from the characters, to the writing, to the style of this film were extremely honest which is what makes it so powerful.

The Bad:

  • Hard to Take: It’s one thing to have one big, horrible event happen, but when you have have several, back to back with almost no line of hope it starts to wear at you. Again, I applaud the director for making the choice to go there and doing it so well, but it’s not an easy journey for the audience.
  • Religious: Though this is a film where it makes sense to have religion, you have a story that transcends any belief system, in fact you have a man that is basically a mystic and yet religion can’t help but perpetually seep into the story and the plot. In fact there are ways of seeing this as one long parable. Though this kind of makes sense to the story, it’s something that always irks me when you have to accept a religion to be true in order to go with the story.


Yes one can argue that there’s beauty in everything and that bad things do happen, but at the heart of this story is only darkness, the kind of darkness that penetrates your soul, leaving you with the kind of nightmare you can’t wake up from, the kind of ultimate fear that we all have and cannot escape — it’s an interesting idea and well presented but does leave you wondering, did I really need to go there?

Rating: 6.5/10

Biutiful will open for a one-week Oscar qualifying run in New York (Sunshine) and Los Angeles (AMC Century City) on December 29, 2010 and will open wider on January 28, 2011.

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