Contrast is often a gateway to experiences in wonder. When beauty is placed alongside grit. When compassion is juxtaposed to injustice. When love is tethered to pain. Biutiful is this story.
With the title hovering over every shot, director Alejandro González Iñárritu creates an experience of the both/and through a visual emersion of Barcelona’s underground. It’s harsh. It’s intimate. It’s (seemingly) un-beautiful. But it’s midst the dark and broken, we see that such labels are often misspoken. Beauty is not bound to an environment, a locale. Rather, Iñárritu prefers to attach it to an emotion, an experience.
An experience embodied by the narrative’s lead, Uxbal, played by Javier Bardem.
For those who saw No Country for Old Men, it might take a half-hour to accept Bardem on the other side of all-that-is-evil, but his persistent pursuit of putting things to right eventually leaves you longing to experience the very vindication he pursues.
In fact, this a film just as much about the viewer’s (visceral) experience as it is its subjects. There’s plenty to feel. Plenty to wonder.
In the end, the combination of Iñárritu’s poetic realism and Bardem’s embodiment of human complexity place Biutiful as one of the most compelling films of 2010 and one we are happy to recommend.