Biutiful

Oh sure, it'd be easy to lead off a review of Alejandro Gonzlez Irritu's manipulatively misspelled melodrama with a joke about how it's "rilly tearible," or that its merry-go-round of miserabilism makes you want to "kil yerself with a shotgunn." But let's be honest: This movie's misuse of language in the service of easy emotional manhandling (the title comes from a child's scrawled drawing; pathos, people!) is the least of its crimes.

Slouching around Spain's sweat shops and his squalid apartment, Uxbal (Bardem, exemplifying the audacity of mope) hustles to make meager ends meet by supplying immigrant workers for Chinese capitalists. His two kids barely have enough to eat; meanwhile, his drug-addicted, streetwalking wife (lavarez) beats their son for bed-wetting when she's not screwing Uxbal's ultrasleazy, nightclub-running brother (Fernndez). To top it all off, Uxbal has just been diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer, with only months to live. Oh, and he communes with the recently deceased. That is not a joke: The man talks to dead people.

As if stuffing mondo social issues---poverty! illegal aliens! child abuse!---and caricatures---crack whores! an evil gay lover!---into this sausage skin until the seams burst were not enough, Irritu introduces a supernatural aspect to his pseudoprofundities. We've come to expect diminishing returns from the once-promising Mexican director who then gave the world Babel, but the combination of wallowing humanistic-cinema overkill and outright ridiculousness he lays out here represents a new low. Biutiful is not a tragedy. It's a straight-up travesty.

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Release details

Rated: R
Release date: Friday February 4 2011
Duration: 147 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Screenwriter: Armando Bo, Alejandro González Iñárritu
Cast: Rubén Ochandiano
Blanca Portillo
Javier Bardem
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