Review of “Biutiful”

The title itself and seeing the actor Javier Bardem in the trailer made me pick this movie. For those who haven’t watched No Country for Old Men, I can’t emphasize enough on what they are missing. “Classic” might be an overused term, but righly fitting for the way the Coen brothers have brilliantly mixed the slow paced, lyrical, almost “boring” rythm of European movies with the explosive and violence of American movies and don’t even get me started on the landscape and Oscar worthy acting of everyone in that movie, but Javier Bardem’s acting was in my opinion the most convincing. In fact, do yourself a favor and go watch any movie made by the Coen brothers.

Sorry for getting off track for a minute there, I guess another post for that movie is in order, but let’s return to Biutiful. Since I don’t want to spoil it for those who want to watch the movie, I will just focus on some elements that struck a chord with me.

Characters: Characters are the backbone of a narrative for movies or novels. Unless it’s a spy or a thriller genre, then they take the backseat to the narrative. Every character, and I mean every one is well fleshed out and the actors are brilliant enough to disappear behind them. Great actors, in my view know how to take on the posture and gestures of a character to the point of being a different person, and the less talented the actor, the more obvious is the fact that he’s just playing himself. For this movie, the actors got me to care about the characters they were playing and for me that’s a good reason right there.

Pacing: This is after all an European movie so apart from a chase scene, the rest of the movie is leisurely slow, dragging you slowly into the thick of the narrative and such thickness makes the slow pacing perfect. The music score is so good that you don’t even notice it. Music in movies should never be apart from the way you feel about the scene and I think this succeeded.

Themes: Out of all the themes, it was the immigration issue that’s the most hearbreaking of all. In the end, Ige, the Senegalese illegal immigrant, played by Diaryatou Daff has to make a decision that has serious repercussions for Uxbal played by Javier Bardem. The Chinese immigrant’s conflicted double life was an angle I have never heard of before so it took me by surprise.

The poetic aspect of this movie is giving the audience the same ending as the beginning. It resumes as it started and given the supernatural gift of Uxbal, one wonders if it’s actually over.

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3 thoughts on “Review of “Biutiful”

  1. The Coen Brothers have made some truly memorable and unsettling movies. “No Country for Old Men” is a particularly interesting case because my wife, who hates violence in films and was truly terrified by that movie, decided recently that she had to see it again. She was mesmorized by it. We had seen it in the theatre when it came out and she admitted she thought it was powerful but it disturbed her too much (for much of the film she covered her eyes). It’s remarkable how it came back to her and made her have to see it again. That’s been my experience with their films: they stay with you, often insouciantly.

    I really like your idea that the Coens blend European narrative technique with American violence. I had not thought about it that way and I think you’re right.

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