Biutiful – Review (Spoiler Free)

Biutiful Poster

I’m a big fan of the Coen brothers’ No Country for Old Men, and I’m especially a fan of Javier Bardem’s fantastic performance in it – as it seems are most people. However, re-watching Biutiful has reminded me that he has at least one performance out there that can top his work with the Coens, because here in Iñárritu’s film, he is just incredible.

Bardem plays Uxbal, a man living on the wrong side of the law in Barcelona, who’s beset on all sides as he struggles to gather enough money to provide for his family. This is a film which offers few happy moments to our protagonist and delivers a ton of hardship upon him, something which appears to have repelled quite a number of critics, but which I do not have a problem with. Each moment of hope or love is made powerful by their scarcity, and also by the numerous layers and conflicts which Bardem is able to emote. Bardem aside however, the rest of the cast all do a great job in their respective roles; particularly Hanaa Bouchaib who does very well playing Uxbal’s daughter, and strongly delivers during their emotional moments together.

I was shocked to discover that Biutiful only comes in at 64% on Rotten Tomatoes, I happen to think that this is one of the best films of the last decade – it’s haunting, emotional, and, for me at least, lingered in my head long after the credits rolled. Reading other reviews, I’ve found that it’s often described as being overly long and drags with its two and a half hours running time, again can’t really say that I agree here. It’s worth every minute of that time, as the film investigates father/child relationships, criminality, immigration, and death, from several different ethnic groups’ perspective. Perhaps it could be slimmed down to focus purely on Bardem’s individual struggle, but he’s in practically every frame anyway, and to lose the stories of the other people that he interacts with would just severely weaken the film. It would become far less powerful without having them to contrast and compare to Uxbal’s journey.

So, it’s probably obvious that I highly recommend Biutiful, despite a lot of the negative reviews out there.  It’s an affecting film that’s simultaneously beautiful, whilst also shining a light on the darker underworld of Barcelona. Nothing comes easy in this film; it’s morally ambiguous, and doesn’t always make for easy viewing, but it’s also powerful, well made, and boasts a fantastic lead performance from one of the most exciting actors working at the moment – Javier Bardem.

Let me know what you thought of the film; did you agree with me or the critics? Tap out a comment below!

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38 comments

  1. Abbi · · Reply

    It’s still on my watch-list but it sounds like something I’d really enjoy!

    1. Oh I hope you do! I think it is a really excellent film 😀

  2. Excellent post, I’ve been meaning to watch this as I’ve seen other Inarritu films.

    1. Cheers buddy – I reckon that you would like this one!

  3. I havent seen this one James, but I’ve wanted to. Bardem is awesome… glad to hear you enthusiastically recommend it, maybe I should finally check it out! 😀

    1. Yeah you should 😀 Even if you don’t get on with the rest of the film, Bardem should impress you!

  4. theipc · · Reply

    I probably won’t ever give this one a watch and live it through this review : )

    1. Haha! Well that’s something at least 😀
      Also, I’m not avoiding your page and shitfest, I’ve just been crazily busy these last few days. I’m going to get onto fixing that asap!

      1. theipc · · Reply

        Excellent!! People are putting out some fun SHIT!

        1. Great! Are you still planing on using my entry? 🙂

  5. Great review. Bardem is simply one of the best screen actors around at the moment and this is another film to prove it. Like you, I thought that this was a brilliant film but also so, so dark… I get why some people didn’t like it.

    1. Cheers, it’s great to hear that you also rate it so highly! I can see why some people didn’t like it, but I can’t see how anyone couldn’t respect Bardem’s performance.

  6. Nice review! This is another movie that I’ve meant to watch but still haven’t taken the time to see.

    1. Thanks Keith, I hope that you do get round to it. it would be interesting to hear your take on it!

  7. Great review! I’ve been meaning to watch this but haven’t gotten around to get it yet. I love Bardem, very talented actor 🙂

    1. Thanks Kim, you should enjoy this one then! This is the best performance that I’ve seen him give, what’s your favourite performance of his?

  8. Bardem is heartbreaking in this role. The rest of the movie is very good, but he’s the glue keeping it all together. Good review Rumsey.

    1. Cheers man, he really is the heart and soul of the film. At its running length that alone would be a struggle for most actors, and yet he pulls it off with apparent ease. He’s a really talented guy!

  9. Never heard of this but I’m definitely going to find it!!!!

    1. That’s very good to hear!

  10. Natalie P · · Reply

    I’ve never heard of this before, but your interesting review might convince me to watch it 🙂

    1. That would be good, it would be interesting to hear your thoughts on this one as I’m not sure quite what you would make of it 😀

  11. YES! Love that you loved it. I’m a huge fan of Alejandro González Iñárritu (who I met in a great fanboy moment) and of Bardem, of course. This was my favorite movie of 2010 and actually the first I reviewed in my blog (Gave it 5 stars out of 5).

    1. That’s awesome that you got to meet him! I’m still making my way through his filmography, but I really like what I have seen so far.

  12. I really need to watch this again. I saw it when it came out and didn’t feel I understood it very well. Bardem is one of my favorite current actors though, without a doubt. I bet this movie gets better upon multiple viewings. Nice review.

    1. Thank you, yeah I’ve found that it I could appreciate it better after re-watching it, so I would recommend that you do. Bardem is fantastic isn’t he? Just a very, very talented actor.

  13. I’m a huge fan of Bardem as well but I’ve never checked this out. I should now. Nice review.

    1. Cheers, I (obviously) recommend that you do!

  14. […] is still in my to-watch list but after Mr. Rumsey’s spoiler free review it won’t stay there […]

  15. I haven’t seen this one James but hey, I rarely agree with the critics anyway. Glad you like this one.

    1. Well I hope that you get the chance to catch this one at some point – needless to say, I highly recommend it!

  16. Have been meaning to check this movie out for ages, nice reminder to watch it!

    1. Awesome, well I hope that you like it. At the least I would think that Bardem will impress you!

      1. I’m sure it will, although I have not seen him in a lot he has impressed me in those I have seen (Skyfall and No Country)

  17. Great review. I always love reading high praise for Biutiful – I really value this movie and it has always deserved a wider audience. Bardem is masterful.

    1. Thanks, glad to hear that you’re also a fan. Bardem truly does give an utterly fantastic performance here doesn’t he! I made a point of telling all my friends about Biutiful in an attempt to get more people to watch it. As you say, it deserves to be more widely known.

  18. Great review. I am thinking: if Bardem wasn’t in it, would it still be a good film? It depends, because Bardem did provide such an outstanding performance. I think the weaknesses are basically in plot-lines, but having said that I think that they make this film more ‘philosophical’ than otherwise would have been the case.

    1. Thanks, Bardem certainly helps push the film up several notches for me, but regardless it’s still a powerful piece without him in my opinion.
      Yeah, I like the plot-lines and their philosophical, expansive nature. I think that really added to the film as a whole, although I understand why some take issue with it.
      Thanks for stopping by!

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