The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - TV Guide - - HIGHLIGHTS -

Biutiful, 145 min­utes of pure, un­cut mis­ery, starts its dis­turb­ing down­ward spi­ral from the very first frame. If you are not watch­ing through­out in a com­plete state of dread of what the fi­nale might hold, it is only be­cause of a stag­ger­ing per­for­mance from Javier Bar­dem in the lead role.

He plays Uxbal, a Barcelona-based grafter do­ing his best to make ends meet while con­tem­plat­ing an end that al­ready has the best of him. Di­ag­nosed with can­cer and given only a few months to live, this solo fa­ther with two young chil­dren in his care does not have the time to make his peace with the world. As it is, the cir­cles in which Uxbal moves – the fac­tory sweat­shops of the Chi­na­town precinct and the city con­struc­tion sites where he pimps out il­le­gal African im­mi­grants for day labour – are any­thing but peace­ful.

Di­rected with a scram­bled nar­ra­tive fo­cus by Mex­i­can film­maker Ale­jan­dro Gon­za­lez Inarritu, Biutiful’s mo­ments of clar­ity – each of them raw, mov­ing and real – are all achieved by Bar­dem’s dev­as­tat­ing de­pic­tion of his doomed char­ac­ter.

There is no way you can rec­om­mend Biutiful on the ba­sis of promis­ing an up­lift­ing night in. If it really con­nects with you in the man­ner in­tended, the film could well ruin your week. How­ever, as a work that sweeps you away with the flow of real and ir­re­versible hu­man emo­tions, Biutiful can­not be rec­om­mended highly enough. ★★★★

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