Friday, February 11, 2011
I am a big fan of writer/director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. His films are always poetic and emotional. "Biutiful" continues his exploration of the human condition but rather than a multiple cast of characters like his previous work, his focus here is on one man's struggle through life.
Javier Bardem gives a towering performance as Uxbal, a man struggling to raise two small kids, providing for them through the underbelly of the Barcelona underworld. He lives on the edge of a criminal life dealing with illegals and counterfeit products only to keep his family together. When he becomes ill, he becomes even more desperate to provide for his children. Mr. Bardem's performance anchors the film. He is in almost every scene and his on screen presence is so powerful, he's just a force of nature commanding your attention.
The cinematography is outstanding but the direction is erratic at times. Subplots dangle and seem unnecessary but to Mr. Inarritu's credit, there are still moments of absolute heartbreak along with scenes of pure beauty.
This is intense story with difficult moments but the humanity and strength in Mr. Bardem's performance is worth every minute. A well deserved best actor Oscar nomination.