Film & TV

"Biutiful" More Bloated Than Babel, Even with 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.

KEEP NEW TIMES BROWARD-PALM BEACH FREE... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Melissa Anderson is the senior film critic at the Village Voice, for which she first began writing in 2000. Her work also appears in the publications of the Voice’s film partner, Voice Media Group: LA Weekly, Denver Westword, Phoenix New Times, Miami New Times, Broward-Palm Beach New Times, Houston Press and Dallas Observer.