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Harley Lond's Movie Reviews (12)

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2.5/4 stars

Javier Bardem stars as Uxbal, a conflicted man who struggles to reconcile fatherhood, love, spirituality, crime, guilt and mortality amidst the dangerous underworld of modern Barcelona. His earns his livelihood by helping smugglers and illegal aliens, by selling knock-off goods, and as a spiritual advisor to his neighbors (he's able to talk with the dead). The film follows him as navigates the shoals of the Spanish underclass, deals with an unfaithful wife (who's having an affair with his brother) and impending death, all the while juggling the internal conflict of good and bad and letting it be known that the most important thing in the world is his children -- and the love he passes on to them. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's films are not noted for their uplifting themes ("21 Grams," "Babel") yet within the grim frameworks he creates, there's always a note of optimism at the end, a spark of humanity that glows and gives hope for the future. That's also the case here; Though it's painful to watch, 'Biutiful' is, indeed, beautiful. Bardem, of course, dominates the film, his eyes speaking heartfelt volumes, moving through each frame with a yearning for a better world, one in which this tragic love story between a man and his children would have a happier ending. Bardem was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar and though he didn't win, certainly deserved it.

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