My rating: 7
IMDB rating: 7.5
In terms of enjoyment, the films I have watched this week, have truly been some gut-wrenching stuff. This film, with Javier Bardem in the leading role, is no exception. Known for a few mainstream Hollywood films like Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008) and Love in the Time of Cholera (2007), it is his roles as Felipe in Eat Pray Love (2010) and Silva in Skyfall (2012) that pushed him firmly into the Hollywood’s A-list.
With Biutiful, it was not only the film that was nominated for the Best Foreign Film at the Academy Awards, but Bardem himself was nominated for Best Actor for his role in this film. The best thing is, it is really easy to see why; Bardem plays the role of Uxbal most impressively. In an otherwise extremely depressing movie, his performance adds an element to this film, that truly makes it worthwhile for you, as viewer, to suffer through this depression with him.
That being said, this is a very difficult movie to both watch and analyse. Having so recently gone through this destruction of the human body, with my own mother, I can say that it was a little bit easier for me to watch than for some of my friends. This sounds quite paradoxical, but while watching it, I was literally watching for these signs of destruction.
It can so easily be explained with the five stages of grief. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance.
Uxbal first experiences denial as he does not fast for his blood test and when the results then eventually does come, tries to talk it away by saying that he did not fast. As is common with people experiencing denial, he lets no one in on his secret and at first try to face the burden alone.
Although he did not show it by becoming physically angry, his anger manifested in other ways. As his actions toward his brother and Marambra show, it usually manifested in extreme frustration towards them as a cloaking of the frustration towards his own declining body.
Bargaining, also did not manifest in the, maybe, religious way that it is normally meant. Uxbal rather bargains with Marambra, believing she is healthy, when in fact she is not, in order for him to spend more time with them as a family, but also to be able to leave the children behind ‘in good hands’.
An re-occurring theme in this film is depression, manifested through different people and different situations. The climax of Uxbal’s depression, for me, is when he sits in the club, totally out of place, with everything going crazy around him and when the girl asks why he is not dancing, he tells her it is because he is dying, and finally acceptance kicks in.
He accepts that he is going to leave his children behind, that Marambra can’t look after them, that although he leaves quite a lot of money behind it will not last forever and finally he accepts that he has to leave his children in the hands of a total stranger, whose good faith he just have to trust to look after them.
A gut-wrenching film, but worth the watch.
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