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. He struggles with a tainted reality and a fate that works against him amidst the dangerous underworld of modern Barcelona.
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Drenched in heavy drama, sensation and style, I'd never recommend this to a person who is looking for austere understatement and subtlety. It's also unnecessarily long. Inarritu really knows how to jab at the gut though and this film is his strongest example of that. He's exceptional at what he does. His rhythm is impeccable, his use of noise is artful and his crescendos provide the perfect amount of catharsis.
The first 30 minutes were painful to sit through, but after, it gets better, but only as better as a film with this subject matter can get. It is shot in a frentic that shows the ugly side of a world we assume is just perfect and beautiful. The inhumane scenes trigger some emotions, but I feel in the end it's not as transcendental as it aims to be. It circularly reminded me of González Iñárritu's depressive style.
For me, the film lacks coherence. I like it if things are not clear, but Biutiful leaves us with too many loose ends. It felt a bit like several hiccups, but nothing coherent and what the trailer promised was only touched in the film: the devotion for his kids while dying. Most of the film is set around his tying up his illegal businesses. His kids have a minor role, overall seen. Shame.
I'm a sucker for Iñárritu's heavy-handed symbolism and leaden poetry but when the dead start climbing the ceilings, I start phasing out. Still oddly moving and Bardem carries a character that shouldn't work.
Haunting. Sticks with you in ways you don't necessarily think will affect you as much as they do. Bardem is spot on, truly accomplished cinematography, amazing use of sound and music, and a wonderful performance from the little boy.