Alejandro González Iñárritu

Mortality looms in many of the films by acclaimed Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu, including Amores Perros, 21 Grams and Babel. The tradition continues in Biutiful; the story of one man’s struggle to set things right for his family on discovering that he has only months to live.

Uxbal (Javier Bardem, sporting an appropriately “lived-in” look) is simultaneously a husband, a father and an underground criminal in a Barcelona that is far from the picture-postcard image. The discomfiture he experiences in trying to reconcile these roles deepens when receives his diagnosis.

With an alcoholic, depressive wife, and the occurrence of a tragic accident, Uxbal finds that setting his affairs in order is no easy feat. Camera work that makes the viewer feel like a fly-on-the-wall at particularly tense, intimate or emotional moments, and Bardem’s fearless performance, means that Biutiful is no easy watch either. Its unflinching honesty, though, along with González Iñárritu’s characteristically bold filmmaking, makes it worthy of all of the accolades it has received.

Grace Henderson