Sex, Drugs, Barcelona
Biutiful is the latest film directed by Mexican-born director Alejandro González Iñárritu. After the success of Amores Perros, Babel and 21 Grams, he delivers a tale that vividly depicts human misery. After watching Biutiful and taking time to digest the images and reorganize the emotions, only the feeling of pain is left.
The film portrays the life of Uxbal—played by Academy Award winning Spanish actor, Javier Bardem—a man who roams the streets of Barcelona carrying a backpack full of suffering. He makes a living by being part of the vicious cycle that immigrants live through in this part of the world. Uxbal’s life is surrounded by death; this idea prevails throughout the film. With the impossibly tragic lifestyle he leads and deadly circumstances he faces, Uxbal struggles to stay alive.
The director makes a point of focusing on all of the disgusting and macabre aspects of reality. The hellish setting—in this case Barcelona—is a filthy and corrupt place that serves as an abyss for all of the characters. They appear to deteriorate as the film progresses, as hope seems to get lost in between the grief.
A positive aspect of the film is Bardem’s brilliant portrayal of Uxbal. He truly transforms into a tragic man who struggles between the duality of the destructive results of his actions and his kindhearted essence. Despite the fact that the camera is almost always in Bardem’s face, the supporting cast truly embraces the film’s harshness.
The audience is attacked with explicit images, which can be hard to assimilate. At times, the director goes beyond the limits of crude reality and presents scenes that evoke disgust, even sickness.
He does however, challenge the audience’s emotions toward a bigger purpose. By showing the absolute worst reality possible, the few hints of innocence and beauty that stand out demonstrate the hope and virtue that defeats calamity.
At the end, Biutiful is everything except beautiful. It evokes all those feelings that we choose to leave in the margins of our days. Perhaps it’s not a pleasant movie to the senses, but it is one we should all watch. Something has to remind us of reality, point out the injustices of the world and present the grand miracle of being alive. Isn’t that exactly what the art of film-making is?