Ugliness looks beautiful in Biutiful

Javier Bardem shines in this complex character study.

Javier Bardem is Biutiful.

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu foregoes the multiple-plotline approach he employed in previous films like Babel and 21 Grams, but that doesn't mean Biutiful is any less complex. There's still plenty of plot, and although it's essentially a character study, the character---a dying street hustler (Javier Bardem) and father of two who can communicate with the dead---is several layers deep. Bardem's Uxbal is a conduit between Chinese immigrants who make knock-off merchandise and African immigrants who sell it on the streets of Barcelona. His side gig is soothing the souls of dead folks who are having trouble passing into the next world. When he finds out that he's soon going to be joining them, he struggles to put his complicated life in order. Bardem is magnetic and Inarritu paints an indelible portrait of the city's squalid underbelly, wringing beauty out of ugliness.

Park Lane

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