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"Biutiful" More Bloated Than Babel, Even with 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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