Movie of the Day – Biutiful
July 11, 2012 1 Comment
At some point in time, I need to compile a list that has my top directors of all time. I usually find myself saying, “this” director or “that” director as being on the best or favorites of mine, and it happens a lot. While this list and rambling might be better suited for that actual post, whenever it gets made, this leads me into one of my favorite directors. No doubt about it, this is top ten quality here folks. Alejandro González Iñárritu, a Mexican director (VIVA MEXICO!) has only four feature films to his filmography, but every single one of the is truly beautiful and moving in every way possible. It is kind of fitting that I use that term “beautiful” as today’s film is titled after the Spanish orthographical spelling of the English word “beautiful”. Like most of his movies, there is a grimmy, dark feeling that showcases the depths of humanity in its darkest times, but ultimately are some of the most gorgeous and heartfelt films around.
Biutiful is a love story between a father and his children. This is the journey of Uxbal, a conflicted man who struggles to reconcile fatherhood, love, spirituality, crime, guilt and mortality amidst the dangerous underworld of modern Barcelona. His livelihood is earned out of bounds, his sacrifices for his children know no bounds. Like life itself, this is a circular tale that ends where it begins. As fate encircles him and thresholds are crossed, a dim, redemptive road brightens, illuminating the inheritances bestowed from father to child, and the paternal guiding hand that navigates life’s corridors, whether bright, bad – or biutiful. — (C) Roadside Attractions
Every time I watch a Iñárritu film, I find this serene and melancholy feeling amongst the dark subject matter. The Death Trilogy of Amores Perros, 21 Grams, and Babel all showcase the universal idea of death, whether across cultures or between complete strangers. It is one of the things that end up binding us all as we all, in some way, share in the event of death. Iñárritu explores the human soul with intense intimacy, through strong writing and casting the right people in for the roles. Biutiful is the culmination of his previous films and patience in directing by telling a devastating story with one of the best performances in any of his films from Javier Bardem.
A linear film, one that is new to Iñárritu, as the story focuses on the trails of its singular character Uxbal. This is a different sort of film for Iñárritu as the story isn’t some long, overlapping narrative that spans across several characters or has a worldly theme to carry it through. We focus on one mans struggles to reconcile his life and that of his children. There is so much to be said about this film and it’s themes of life, faith, death, family and morality, almost too much for me to dive into without taking away the experience of watching this film. Iñárritu explores every theme in agonizing detail, carried by the deep acting that Bardem does throughout the film. Able to pull you into the destructive life of a man whose life is crumbling around him, Bardem’s emotional journey is a taxing portrayal of man who is on a path to redemption. I found myself absorbed in his acting, the story of trying to give all that he can to set his children up for a better life, one that he couldn’t even manage for himself, but needs to do so for the sake of his children. Crestfallen and beaten, making the wrong choices in life even though life itself has dealt him a worse start than others, Xubal tries to do something meaningful, something beautiful in his life of desolation and destitution. Javier Bardem is the heart and soul of this film, taking you in and pulling you through the muck of life and finding closure where some see only death looming.
I realize I am speaking more in generalities and skipping on the details of the film. I do this only because I want people to see this if they haven’t already. If you have seen it, you will know the feelings are universal in terms of finding that bit of grace in death. It’s a powerful film, a gorgeous catastrophe that is framed by the redemption of a man of who has all but seemingly made the bad choices in life. Iñárritu creates a poetic narrative that is deeply personal and difficult to get through. The film is over 2 hours long, often hammering in the depression that Xubal goes through, but through the tribulations he experiences, we share in the feeling of completion as there is some solace at the end of the struggles. It’s effective, draining, emotionally engaging and a complete story that bridges the beginning and ending of life’s struggles.
*images via RottenTomatoes