Trailer Tuesday - Biutiful

Alejandro González Iñárritu's Biutiful starring the Javier Bardem is an emotionally draining film, but it's worth watching. It's currently playing at The Picturehouse in Dubai Mall. If there's one movie to watch this week, make it this one.

Uxbal (Javier Bardem) is a street criminal, a spiritual man, a loving father and a lost soul - surrounded by death and how he is trying to live life ... a harsh life because of his circumstances, surroundings, his choices in life.

Set in Barcelona, showing us a side of the city most of us are very unfamiliar with, Biutiful is full of subtle details that added so much depth to the story and the characters.

Here's a small extract from Iñárritu's production notes (worth reading in its entirety) that explains what inspired the film:

Biutiful for me is a reflection akin to our brief and humble permanence in this life. Our existence, short-lived as the flicker of a star, only reveals to us its ineffable brevity once we are close to death. Recently, I thought of my own death. Where do we go and what do we transform into when we die? Into the memory of others. This is the anguishing and dizzying race against time that Uxbal faces. What does a man do in his final days of life? Does he dedicate himself to living or to dying? Perhaps Kurosawa was right when he said our dreams of transcendence are just that: an illusion. Regardless, since the film’s inception, I was never interested in making a movie about death, but a reflection in and about life when our inevitable loss of it occurs.

A film for me always begins with something very vague -- a bit of a conversation, a glimpse of a scene through a car window, a shaft of light or some music notes. Biutiful started on a cold autumn morning in 2006 while my kids and I were preparing breakfast and I randomly played a CD of the Ravel Piano Concerto in G Major. Some months before, I had played the same Ravel piano concerto during a family car trip from Los Angeles to the Telluride Film Festival. The scenery of the Four Corners area was breathtaking but after the Ravel piece finished, both of my kids started to cry at the same time. The melancholic quality, the sense of sadness and beauty that this piece of music contains was overwhelming for them. My kids couldn’t take it or explain it. They just felt it. When they heard that Ravel piano again that morning, they both asked me to stop the CD. They remembered very clearly the emotional impact and how that music moved them. That same morning, a character knocked on my head’s door and said: “Hola, my name is Uxbal.” During the next three years, I would spend my life with him. I didn’t know what he wanted, who he was or where he was going. He was dismissive and full of contradictions. But to be honest, I knew how I wanted to present him and how I wanted to finish with him. Yes, I just had the beginning and the end.

It wasn’t until one year later, while I was walking in the El Raval section of Barcelona, that everything made sense. Barcelona is the queen of Europe. She is indeed beautiful, but like every queen, she also has a much more interesting side than the obvious and sometimes boring, bourgeois beauty that every tourist and postcard photographer has admired. Since I was 17 years old and traveled around the world working in a cargo ship as a floor cleaner, I have been attracted to, curious about and fascinated by the neighborhoods that are hidden and that nobody sees. That’s what I respond to. And I am talking about the diverse, complex, marginal and multiethnic new world that has been recently created in Barcelona and most of the big cities of Europe. It would have been impossible to imagine this when I first came to Barcelona at 17. But now, immediately, I knew that Uxbal belonged to this place, I knew he belonged to this eclectic and vibrant community that is reshaping the world.

Biutiful is a love story between a father and his children. This is the journey of Uxbal, a conflicted man who struggles to reconcile fatherhood, love, spirituality, crime, guilt and mortality amidst the dangerous underworld of modern Barcelona.  His livelihood is earned out of bounds, his sacrifices for his children know no bounds.   Like life itself, this is a circular tale that ends where it begins.  As fate encircles him and thresholds are crossed,  a dim, redemptive road  brightens,  illuminating the inheritances bestowed from father to child, and the paternal guiding hand that navigates life’s corridors, whether bright, bad – or biutiful.

I leave you with this wonderful quote by Iñárritu, also from the Production Notes (I told you its worth reading in full):

At the end of the day, when a film is not a document, it is a dream. And as a dreamer, you are always alone, as a painter is alone with a white canvas. And to be alone is to ask questions (as Goddard once said ) . . . and to make films is to answer them.