Thursday, October 6, 2011



Uxbal (Javier Bardem) is a father of two and involved in many unlawful activities in Barcelona’s underworld. His wife’s bipolarity poses a threat to his kids. He finds out that he is dying due to terminal cancer. In spite of all the chaos going on around him, he tries hard to give his children a semblance of the normal life that they both deserve. Given all these circumstances, is he really ready to leave the world behind him and cross over to the other side?

It really just leaves you awestruck in a very bad way, with your mouth agape in terror. I am talking about the exploitative nature of human beings. We are indeed the Earth’s biggest parasites, are we not? Biutiful does not just give you a glimpse of the world of human trafficking, in a way it drags you all the way into a journey inside this illegal trade, and gives you the know-how on its operations from the higher ups all the way down to the family level where you see the lives of the victims ravaged by this particular illness of society. It is one depressing picture, and it paints you a version of Europe so different from the ones they use to sell a typical Hollywood romantic comedy. In effect, it is a social commentary presented through the personal perspective of a human being torn apart by the two very different worlds in between which he shuttles on a daily basis.

Bardem is brilliant, hands down. Uxbal is the heart and soul of this movie, your guide, and Bardem portrays the role with so much depth enough for you to emotionally invest on his character, feel his emotions, and take part in his difficult struggle. His confusion transcends through the screen. Even as a mere observer you are forced to reflect on whether you want to hate him or not. He is the loving father who would do anything for his children. On the other hand he is also this middle man that makes all the human exploitation in the film possible, an act of inhumanity that ends on a tragic note. Still, you see how he tries to make it up to the people he is exploiting, but is that enough? Does caring for them in more ways than one actually redeem him from his participation in their exploitation? And then there is his own dilemma, his sickness. In a way you want to hate the director for giving him an easy way out. In a way you end up sympathizing with him because he is dying anyway, and deep down, he is a good guy. That’s how good Bardem is in this movie. He will make you think about all those things. He just effectively humanized the human trafficker.

One interesting thing about the Uxbal character is his sixth sense. Yes. He sees dead people. Okay, wait up, is this a horror movie? I wouldn’t say so. To classify this as “horror,” one might as well be referring to the horrors caused by human beings, not ghosts. Still, there are a few scenes which involve spirits, and the imagery is a bit disturbing but not strong enough even when put together to defeat the other horrors in the film caused by the living. In effect it is just one element of the story that gives the entire film a soul. Those scenes are not really there to scare you. It can be said that it is just a symbolism used to capture a person’s inner demons onscreen.

To sum it all up, what to expect watching this film? Confusion, probably? Not all the pieces of the puzzle fit at once; important aspects of the story are strategically placed all over the plot to give you a, “Okay, so that’s what it means!” reaction. Watching it also involves a confusing roller coaster of emotions because of the many different issues tackled whether they are personal or social. Not all of them might be relevant to your life, but you might get affected by at least one of the issues if you are not that numb to other people’s sufferings. Iñárritu also seems to be a very big fan of languages, so aside from Castellano you also here some Mandarin and whatever that African language spoken in Senegal is. That’s about it. You will leave the movie house confused because you won’t know if you want to hate the world, love the director for a good film, or just move on with your life. It’s engaging like that.

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