"Biutiful" More Bloated Than Babel, Even with Bardem

Life's not so Biutiful for Javier Bardem.
Life's not so Biutiful for Javier Bardem.

Biutiful stays in one place (Barcelona) and follows one main character (Javier Bardem's Uxbal) in a linear story line. Though its structure may be whittled down, Biutiful is morbidly obese, elephantine with miserabilist humanism and redemption jibber-jabber. Beyond dying of prostate cancer — a situation that calls for several scenes of Bardem peeing blood and his pants before affixing an adult diaper — Uxbal must contend with a bipolar wife who's sleeping with his brother; serve as the black-market point man for Senegalese dope-peddlers and two venal Chinese sweatshop overseers; and communicate with the dead — a burdensome gift that comes in handy after a horrible incident at the sweatshop. Through this relentless, manipulative muck, Uxbal tries to be a stable, loving parent to his two tykes, especially after Mom gives one of them a shiner. For all the hand-wringing hooey, Biutiful says nothing more complex than this: Father feels worst.

 
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