Name: Lauren Jones
Film Review: Biutiful
Inarritu's Biutiful is set in a low income Barcelona neighborhood and centers around petty criminal Uxbal (Javier Bardem) and his two young children. With no relatives, other than an older brother the news of Uxbal's terminal prostate cancer weighs heavily on the single fathers mind. Involved in the illegal immigrant employment industry Uxbal also sees himself as responsible for the eventual incarceration of a street vendor selling forged goods. Uxbal arranges for the street vendors wife and child to move in to his small apartment and to look after his children when he eventually passes away due to his disease. The film has been classified as a Romantic Drama with the significance of the title becoming evident in the way Uxbal learns to truly appreciate his life and those in it as he approaches his death.
Biutiful highlights all the emotions of a single father struggling to raise his family in the slums of a metropolitan such as Barcelona. Audiences are moved to sympathy after the scene of Uxbal in the clinic for a prostate exam where it is obvious he is in great pain. However this sympathy becomes confused after an altercation with a young boy's parents at a funeral. We now see that Uxbal is involved in some rather dubious activities in his attempts to support his children. Uxbal' s estranged wife, Marambra is proven to be an unfit mother in her first appearance in the film which sees her drinking and smoking in the morning with another man in her bed. Uxbral attempts to reconnect with Marambra in hopes that she will look after the children after his death but the interaction is unsuccessful. The films slum setting aids in confirming the hardships faced by this small family as well as providing an explanation for Uxbal's involvement in illegal activities.
Major themes; portrayal of relationship between colonizer & colonized; depiction of colonial/ postcolonial moment; relevance of questions of identity, community, diversity, entanglement, globalization, transnationalism ; hybridity vs cultural homogeneity/purity/authenticity; relevance to current transnational & global culture .
Themes in Biutiful include the acceptance of ones passing as well as the overwhelming responsibility of coming to terms with the down fall of others. Uxbral experiences death in a number of ways, not only must he prepare his family for his death but his impending death also causes him to contemplate the death of his estranged father. The dead owl in the second scene can be seen as symbolic of this theme of death and the young man making the sounds of the ocean is symbolic of finding peace as the man is Uxbal's father with whom he is now reunited. The film also deals largely with the roles of immigrants in the backstreets of large metropol's and their reliance on selling illegal copies of purses and sunglasses. This feeds in to the common stereotype of the Chinese counterfeiting goods as well as the trope of African street vendors. The cyclical aspects of immigrant poverty is shown in the way in which the poor workshop workers are eventually killed by a gas leak from cheap gas heaters installed by a non-professional Uxbal. However despite this stereotype the audience are made to feel sympathetic for the immigrants and their socio-economic position.
Biutiful uses still frames of the streetlight lit streets of lower income Barcelona and small apartment shots with natural lighting to bring a sense of gritty reality to the emotionally charged scenes. This realistic setting contrasts the film's title as well as its focus on the more intricate interac tions that make life beautiful. This is also contrasted by the artificial lighting and lack of windows in the areas where the immigrants live such as the warehouse of the Chinese purse makers as well as the shared home of the African street vendors whose lives can be seen as difficult and almost completely dependent on those like Uxbal whom provide work or assistance.