User Score
7.3

Generally favorable reviews- based on 78 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 63 out of 78
  2. Negative: 9 out of 78

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  1. Feb 27, 2011
    5
    The latest from director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu ("Babel") is bleak and tragic. Javier Bardem plays a man in the mean streets of Barcelona who hustles to make money, struggles with his family and deals with his failing health. There's nothing warm or joyful here. Just hard times and dark drama. It's well-made, complex and distressing, but lacking the emotional power to make it involving.
  2. Jan 30, 2011
    5
    How can talents such as Iñarritu and Del Toro plus Bardem's breathtaking performance amount to such a painful experience for the viewer. Someone described this as 3 bad movies in 1. I cannot say that much, yet I strongly urge Iñarritu to reflect on what grasped us in Amores Perros or even Babel and make movies for us, not only for his viewing pleasure. Bring on the magic! @cinemaquote Expand
  3. Feb 24, 2011
    7
    Tackling immigration and the associated social implications this film is great because the lead actor Bardem is one of the best actors alive and Inarritu keeps making really biutiful movies...
  4. Feb 20, 2011
    4
    I greatly admired Bardem's performance, which is well deserving of an Oscar. Unfortunately, the movie was so dark and unpleasant, that I was really uncomfortable sitting through it. Despite Bardem's performance, I could not get myself to like his character. Nor were any of the other major characters likable. Without finding a character I could identify with, I cannot give the film a positive score. Expand
  5. Apr 17, 2011
    9
    Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu is known for his signature multi-protagonist plots introduced in his death trilogy, which included "Amores Perros," "21 Grams," and "Babel." In "Biutiful," however, he zooms in on one character, Uxbal, a single father from Barcelona, facing terminal cancer. Uxbal is a fascinating character with many good intentions that don't always translate into good deeds. While he truly cares for people (his brother even calls him the Dalai Lama), he actually makes a living from an operation where illegal Senegalese immigrants sell on the streets the counterfeited bags and pirated CDs produced in a sweatshop by a group of frightened Chinese who sleep on the floor of a locked basement.

    So yes, Uxbal is a complicated hero, not perfect by any means, but because of Bardem's earnest performance you feel Uxbal's pain, and he also wins you over with the love he so tenderly expresses for his soon-to-be fatherless children, and for the father he never met. And that's what the movie is truly about: parenthood, how people, no matter their nationality, are always concerned with giving their kids a better life. You'll find that most of the characters (from Uxbal, to the police officer, to the sweatshop owner, to the main Senegalese immigrant) are trying to do what's best for their kids. But are their choices moral or even legal? Morality is a big theme here, and the movie will leave you questioning even your own.

    To appreciate this film you need to understand Iñárritu's style--bold and bleak and confrontational. He wants to shock you, make you angry, remove you from your comfortable place so you can experience some of the realities millions of people face everyday. Allow him to. "Biutiful" is worth watching because of the many layers of the story, the stellar performances by Javier Bardem and Maricel Ã
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  6. Jul 16, 2011
    10
    It was St Paul who claimed that the good that he would was not what he did, but the evil that he wouldn't. In a way, that true statement of the potential for error in the best of our intentions is the strange attractor that drives this beautiful, exquisitely painful story. Put yourself in the man Uxbal's shoes and ask yourself--what would it feel like to be intricately enmeshed such a complex web, and yet have so few moves available with which to solve your problem? "The Universe will take care of your children", he is told, and although it may be true, it is cold comfort for any dying parent whose last thoughts cluster around the question, what will become of them without my love and care? With all of his dying preoccupations rolled into one overwhelming question, the one person in his life capable of attending to his children when he is gone stands gazing at the flight departure list, her baby on her back, and every penny he owned in her bag-- what will she do, and why does she do it? What is it that drives the choice that she makes? Is it love? Is it duty? What does she owe this man? And why would she choose to deny everything she had longed for? Difficult questions, often without answers, abound. This is a thought provoking film, true and unflinchingly real in it's study of the characters involved. For the world as we find it is not black and white but infinite shades of light and dark, and it is rare that anyone is wholly good or wholly bad, or even wholly unsympathetic. And don't think you can always predict what someone will do, before they are put to the test. Depending on the perspective of the others in our lives, we are each of us both heros and villains in one way or another. In the final analysis, nobody gets out alive. You can't take it with you. All roads end in the grave. Life is a lesson about loss, and all striving is futile. The lucky ones who fight against the dying of the light think of those they love as their cares drop one by one from their cold dead fingers. Expand
  7. Feb 12, 2012
    10
    The film is painful there's no doubt about about that but Inarritu's genius is it's ability to captivate, to grab on and not let go and to make you feel every moment of pain desperation. The cast is flawless, and Bardem is without a doubt, the single greatest actor that Spain has produced .
  8. Mar 17, 2011
    6
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. The first time you see somebody peeing blood, that's cause for moviegoer sympathy. A second time, however, well, that's just showing off. Outside of Lars Von Trier's "Antichrist", it's not every movie which dares to feature graphic, and in this case, gratuitous urination. (Willem Dafoe pisses blood just once.) Since "Biutiful" is, ultimately, a horror movie in two senses, it's interesting how this visceral grotesquerie corresponds to the non-genre side of the categorical divide. Not only does Uxbal(Javier Bardem) piss a weak arcing stream of dark brown liquid, he also pisses in his pants. Cancer's effects has left him incontinent. Very soon, the low-level criminal will be needing to wear extra-protection. Needless to say, the filmmaker shows Bardem in a diaper, because that's how miserabilists like him roll. The filmmaker challenges Bardem to find the dignity in his indignity. The filmmaker makes sure that his audience feels something for this dying man, leaving no stone unturned for this father of two children, a boy and a girl, whom he exploits unmercifully as a point of manipulation for the movie's life and death matters. He banks on the great reservoirs of feelings that most moviegoers possess for the death-affected young. To the miserabilist, an emotion like joy can only be applied fleetingly and ironically, as a temporal reprieve from a permeated mis-en-scene of unremitting fatalism, the film's prevailing diegetic expression, thus when resumed, right about the time Ana blows out her celebratory candle, will turn out to be all the more devastating, this resignation of hope, just like how the filmmaker planned it. He wants to take all the wind out of our sails. He knows, and we know, that Ana's eleventh birthday is going to be her last happy one for awhile. Because the fix is in, where nothing positive can arise from these tragic circumstances, due to the filmmaker's aesthetics, Marambra(Marciel Alvarez), Uxbel's ex-wife, we know, will continue to struggle with her bipolar condition, even though Uxbel is counting on her to be a full-time mother. From the very start, we know she's out of the running for full custody of Ana and Pedro. For the most part, the filmmaker sets her up to be a misfit parent. The screenplay never allows for a scene where Uxbel informs this cocaine-addled woman about his disease. Oblivious to Uxbel's bloody pee, Marambara isn't given a fair shake in the redemption department. If she knew the whole story, maybe the bad mother would have the impetus to change. While his condition gets worse and worse, the film invites you to hate Marambra, who is predisposed towards inter-family infidelities and child abuse, dealbreakers both, but entirely avoidable had full disclosure been practiced. With nowhere else to turn, the de factor orphans are entrusted to an almost complete stranger. In the tradition of noble, self-sacrificing black women, Ige(Diaryatu Daff), a Senegalese woman whom Uxbel knows only by association, is supposed to jump at the chance to look after a white man's children, but she subverts this cliched attitude toward non-white females(which has the effect of complimenting the one-man United Nations for his colorblindness) by returning to Africa with the money originally allocated for her charges' welfare. Is it the filmmaker's intentions to associate Ige with the story that Tito tells Uxbel about the supposedly loyal tiger who bites the face of its trusting owner. Is "Biutiful" that unfair? Because Uxbel is such a nice guy, we lose sight of the fact that he's a profiteer, complicit to the exploitation which leads to the sweatshop gassing and the sidewalk vendors(Ige's husband included) being deported back home. In reality, Ige owes him nothing. Last seen at the airport, for a split second, we think that Ige had changed her mind, but the voice we hear back at the dark apartment is of Uxbel's own making. For a split second, we think Uxbel will die with peace of mind, knowing that his children will be taken care of. But alas, a relatively happy ending is not in the filmmaker's vocabulary. Uxbel dies with his children's welfare unresolved. As aforementioned, "Biutiful" is a horror movie. Not in the genre sense where Uxbel has the sixth sense and can see dead people, but rather it's the horror of watching a man die slow and hard. Expand
  9. Dec 30, 2010
    9
    I loved this film. Javier Bardem's Uxbal is captivating. We follow him through what is the depths of misery for a father that has to leave his children behind and isn't prepared. The film is chock full of characters from different cultures trying to survive under the radar in Barcelona. Uxbal is the go-between for the city's fringe population while also serving as a go-between for families and their recently departed. He gently pushes souls toward the afterlife and helps those left behind to find closure (as a sideline, no less). I'm going to have to sit and think about all of the different symbolism in this film. There is a lot of it. It is a heavy, beautiful film. Perfect for 2 1/2 of getting out of yourself. Expand
  10. May 12, 2012
    7
    Inarritu, in the last two films of his that I have seen, is clearly fascinated by two things: intercontinental relationships, and tragedy; though perhaps a bit too much so. Both films are in my opinion flawed pieces of work saved mainly because of their haunting images and strong performances. I actually prefer the more recent Biutiful over the Oscar nominated Babel because it seems to have a stronger center, or should I say itâ Expand
  11. Mar 27, 2011
    9
    The whole film starts with a night conversation of two in a room then at an unknown point of a mystical place where a dead owl lies on the ground of snow before the main title appears ; Biutiful has intend to provide the audiences the empathy into of what dreadful feeling one man in the underworld of Madrid could have sensed in his cracked wife,daughter and son with the accompanies of many - no matter if they're "dead" or" alive" - after all in his own weakening mind;For that strong arrangement of wry thing on lens,a successful one. Expand
  12. Mar 13, 2011
    3
    I have never seen a movie that was was damn and deliberately depressing in my life. Why not mutilate some animals and throw that in. I liked this director's first two films but Babel was boring. This just rubbed despair in your face. "Blue Valentine" was a fun filled blast compared to this. I wanted to slit my wrist s. Also, cut out the piano soundtrack. I am heading to my Prozac.
  13. Nov 26, 2011
    6
    It was ok. It was a bit too long and made the film seem drawn out at times. The acting was good and Javier Bardem was amazing in this film and honestly is the only reason to watch it. The story isnt all that interesting and to be honest its rather confusing at times. Its a shame because this film had a ton of potential.
  14. Jun 5, 2011
    2
    Very very slow and monotone. If you want to feel depressed without a real purpose, try this movie. Visually not bad, overall, I see a missed opportunity.
  15. Feb 8, 2011
    9
    Javier Bardem knocks Uxbal's dying father/saint out of the park. His best role and work this side of NoCountryForOldMen. He's deserving of any acting award available, anytime. I left the theater shaken, stirred and overwhelmed; it helped that I'm a father (luckily I'm not dying though). Bardem's Uxbel is a dream role for every actor and with Alejandro González Iñárritu at the helm, a dreaem situation. Bardem has a conflicted,passionate director willing to let him "act" (work), and more importantly, willing to the let the actor take time to work. Half these critic idiots can't handle more than 30 seconds of silence (neither can 99% of America) but like Malick, AGI could care less about ADD audiences. Thank God he doesn't. Poetic, challenging and epically emotional, Biutiful is nothing less than its title: complicatedly beauitful. Collapse
  16. Mar 3, 2011
    10
    This movie is absolutely great! It is touching and it is view into a real situation of immigrants, who struggle to survive in a horrific conditions. But it is not only that. There is also a story of domestic problems many people can identify with it. And there is a man caught in this situation, who wants to make things better for everyone, but unfortunately has his own war to fight - cancer. Movie makes you think. In addition to that, the cast is amazing, especially Javier Bardem who is a wonderful actor. Expand
  17. May 2, 2011
    4
    So disappointing. Great acting, great cinematography but it lacks a decent story. I could only watch half and give up. I noticed from the reviews that this was the first film by Alejandro which did not the screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga and it shows. Its like a sequel to a charlie kaufman movie , but without kaufman.
  18. Sep 12, 2011
    10
    Bardem's performance is ABSOLUTELY haunting and that is more than enough to rate this 10. Another highlight: it shows a side of Barcelona most of the people who visit the city never thought of.
  19. Jan 5, 2014
    7
    I have been an advocate of Iñárritu’s works continuously, AMORES PERROS (2000, 8/10), 21 GRAMS (2003, 9/10) and BABEL (2006, 8/10), but his fourth feature length BIUTIFUL has been evading my watchlist hitherto, maybe it is its dour outlook intimidates me, although Bardem grabbed a precious BEST LEADING ACTOR nomination in a foreign language picture.

    But today, I’m in an indomitable mood
    (thanks to my sanguine nature) so I dare to take the challenge. BIUTIFUL, the intentional spelling error rings a bell of THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS (2006, 7/10), under the same default of a divorced father struggles to maintain the subsistence with his kid(s), the latter is a bullish and aspiring fairytale while the former treads the muddy water in the underground Barcelona, with an impending terminal cancer lurks on.

    Uxbal (Bardem) lives a double life, he is a medium who earns money from eliciting the last words from the deceased, also he is involved in a furtive illegal immigrant labor business with a Chinese boss Hai (Chen). With two children to foster, as a single father, when he realizes his days are numbered, it is a clarion call to urge him to be prepared and don’t leave anything unfinished, which is also why the cancer sub-genre has its unique allure since it sets a date, motivates or even coerces the protagonists to take a look at theirs lives from a different angle, to slow down the pace and engage in an introspection like in TIME TO LEAVE (2005, 7/10) or to fulfill the bucket list like in MY LIFE WITHOUT ME (2003, 8/10), but here, Uxbal faces a much grimmer reality, everything will collapse, sometimes even in the most horrid way (an accidental carbon monoxide poisoning results in the casualties of two dozens Chinese immigrants all because he bought the cheapest heaters), his tentative attempt to leave two kids to his bipolar ex-wife Marambra (Álvarez) leads up to a blind alley and his brother Tito (Fernández) is a giant sleaze ball. With no other option, he leaves all his savings to an African immigrant Ige (Daff), who lives with them with her own infant boy, in dire hope he wishes she can take care of his offspring, but will she? Life cannot be more harder, so death could be his deliverance.

    Bardem is so emotive as the jaded father, with his perpetual greasy hair, utterly riveting in meting out the plight around him, particularly scenes with his two younglings, a dramatic turn from the deadpan and ruthless killer in NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN (2007, 9/10); theatrical actress Álvarez stuns in her film debut, a far more afflicted persona beyond redemption. Being a Chinese, it does pique my curiosity to see how a foreign director does with the Chinese gay characters in their films, but as a much diluted subplot here, shamefully it has been passed over with a vilifying perspective.

    Iñárritu spins a Stygian recount of a very personal story, its often wobbly, frantic camera movements linger persistently in the seedy and cramped environs, attended by the otherworldly score from Gustavo Santaolalla, sometimes resorts to fright flick with the spectra materialize out of nowhere. Apparently my least favored film so far, its brooding nature and the one-sided linear narrative does deter the general audiences from emerging oneself to a sadcore once more.
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  20. Oct 18, 2013
    6
    I can give you 6 only for Javier Bardem. The other part of film and charecters are terrifed. Scenes and cameras are very bad to get something. Sometimes you can catch the wrong things and logical errors basicly with camera... Like I said Javier Bardem was the film's point here, this point is not for film...
Metascore
58

Mixed or average reviews - based on 33 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 19 out of 33
  2. Negative: 3 out of 33
  1. Reviewed by: Rick Groen
    Feb 11, 2011
    75
    In this vast balloon of a film, Bardem is the ballast – that Manichean face is a movie onto itself.
  2. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Feb 4, 2011
    50
    It is raw, it is searing, it is honest.
  3. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Feb 3, 2011
    63
    The saving grace of Biutiful is Bardem.