ah javier bardem… i love him. he’s one of the great actors of the world. his face is indelible, a monument, a colossal stamp on the human species. yet as an actor he’s hardly a towering icon – he’s emotionally nimble, vulnerable, transparent. in “the sea inside” i was constantly reminded of the physical force of his presence and awestruck at how he had succeeded in taming it, containing it. an incredible feat.
in biutiful, we are treated to many different sides of javier bardem/uxbal – he’s a small-time go-between involved in every aspect of barcelona’s criminal underbelly, he’s a devoted father, he’s still in love with his bipolar ex-wife, he can commune with the dead, he tries to be a good human being (however quaint that might sound these days). oh yeah, he’s also dying of cancer. in his characteristic style, alejandro gonzález iñárritu gives us multiple threads that r all woven into one dynamic tapestry. characters and storylines abound, some more developed than others, yet uxbal ties everything together.
day by day, he jumps thru hoops in order to survive. he is surrounded by people who r equally trapped by their own circumstances. it’s a mean and miserable side of life where deprivation can turn morality into a luxury. it is grating to watch after a while. one wishes for less – fewer, longer shots, less hectic editing, fewer side characters and sundry drama, more quiet, more time for uxbal to articulate his essence fully, uninterruptedly.
but there r some beautiful moments in the film – when damaged people manage to connect deeply, when a father comforts his son in the dark, when a grown man sees his 20 year-old embalmed father for the first time, when a man confronts his own death and shares that certainty with his young daughter. there is such truth at these moments, such raw emotion, such honest physicality. the movie is shot handheld for the most part. the colors r grim with sudden bursts of radiance. the film has an impeccable artistic look. and javier bardem is magnificent.
watch trailer here.