Mixed or average reviews - based on 33 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 80 Ratings

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  • Summary: Academy Award winner Javier Bardem plays a man on the wrong side of the law who struggles to provide for his children on the dangerous streets of Barcelona. The latest film from Academy Award nominee Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Biutiful won the award for Best Actor at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival and is sure to be one of the most talked-about films of the year.(Roadside Attractions) Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 19 out of 33
  2. Negative: 3 out of 33
  1. Reviewed by: Kirk Honeycutt
    Dec 30, 2010
    Biutiful has a strong, linear narrative drive. Nevertheless, and most of all, it's a gorgeous, melancholy tone poem about love, fatherhood and guilt.
  2. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Jan 27, 2011
    It's Bardem's portrayal of his search for those answers that drives Biutiful forward.
  3. Reviewed by: Sean O'Connell
    Jan 28, 2011
    Biutiful soars to its highest points once it shifts its focus away from death to ask us how we are choosing to live our lives.
  4. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Feb 3, 2011
    The saving grace of Biutiful is Bardem.
  5. Reviewed by: Betsy Sharkey
    Dec 29, 2010
    Sometimes it seems as if Iñárritu is literally carving out his actor's heart, so tangible does Bardem make Uxbal's fears. Iñárritu has so much that he wants to say - too much, in fact, and the film's central weakness - that he has created an emotional tsunami for both the actors and the audience.
  6. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Jan 29, 2011
    Iñárritu does the actor no favors by putting him through the existential wringer every step of the way. Uxbal suffers for all our sins.
  7. Reviewed by: Melissa Anderson
    Dec 28, 2010
    Though its structure may be whittled down in comparison with the earlier works, Biutiful is even more morbidly obese than "Babel" in terms of soggy ideas, elephantine with miserabilist humanism and redemption jibber-jabber.

See all 33 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 21
  2. Negative: 2 out of 21
  1. Mar 3, 2011
    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
  2. Sep 2, 2014
    Exquisite! Wonderful piece of art which will leave you absolutely breathless. It has been a long time I have't watched such a beautiful at the same time painful movie. As the story continues I was more and more captivated by the love, pain and truth I was witnessing. I wanted this movie to never end. Expand
  3. Feb 12, 2012
    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 . Expand
  4. Jan 5, 2014
    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.
  5. Oct 18, 2013
    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... Expand
  6. Mar 17, 2011
    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
  7. Jun 5, 2011
    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. Expand

See all 21 User Reviews


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