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Biutiful

By AARON MESH
[THREE NIGHTS ONLY] In the decade since making his sizzling debut with Amores Perros, director Alejandro González Iñárritu has been trapped with screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga in a feedback loop of increasingly far-flung and outlandish coincidences. Biutiful is Iñárritu’s first film after his split with Arriaga, and the best that can be said for it is that at least all the coincidences are packed into one character. The guy’s name is Uxbal, and he is played by a goateed Javier Bardem. Living in a squalid corner of Barcelona, Uxbal is a caring single father of two children, who were abandoned by their desperate and appalling bipolar mother. He is dying of advanced-stage prostate cancer; his doctor gives him two months. He runs a black-market goods and labor ring with gay Chinese gangsters. Oh, and he can talk to the souls of the dead. Bardem’s Oscar-nominated anguish—it’s an intense but strangely monotonous performance—recalls a blend of Sean Penn and Benicio Del Toro’s wailings and gnashings in Iñárritu’s 21 Grams, even down to bits in which the hero goes outside and gazes mournfully upon flocks of birds silhouetted against the evening sky. 21 Grams, however, did not feature a sequence set inside a strip club where the dancers’ ass cheeks are decorated with nipples. You can’t say the filmmaker isn’t innovating new kinds of degradation. By the end of Biutiful, Uxbal and his youngest child have both developed bladder-control problems: The movie winds up with father and son both pissing themselves in the night. It’s another meaningful connection, you see. But I can’t imagine anyone seeing this film by choice.
 

Special Note

Fifth Avenue Cinema. 7 and 9:30 pm Friday-Saturday, 3 pm Sunday, May 3-5
 
  • Genres: Drama
  • Running Time: 147 minutes
  • Release Date: Friday, January 28, 2011
  • Country: Mexico
  • Language: Spanish
  • MPAA Rating: R [ Disturbing Images, Drug Use, Language, Nudity, Some Sexual Content ]
  • Critic's Score: D+
  • Starring: Javier Bardem [Uxbal], Maricel Álvarez [Marambra], Eduard Fernández [Tito], Diaryatou Daff [Igé], Taisheng Cheng [Hai], Luo Jin [Liwei], Hanaa Bouchaib [Ana]
  • Directed by: Alejandro Iñárritu [Director], Alejandro Iñárritu [Screenwriter], Armando Bó [Screenwriter], Nicolas Giacobone [Screenwriter], Alejandro Iñárritu [Producer], Fernando Bovaira [Producer], Jon Kilik [Producer], Rodrigo Prieto [Cinematographer], Stephen Mirrione [Film Editor]
  • Visit the Movie Website | Watch the trailer
 

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  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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