"Biutiful" is beautiful in the way that Amerika is America. It's a chord that's slipped from major to minor key. Biblicly speaking, Javier Bardem as Uxbal, a denizen of Barcelona's meanest streets, has been compared to Jesus. Maybe Job is the better metaphor.
"Biutiful" is not for everyone. Gritty and dark doesn't begin to describe Uxbal's world, and he's not alone. Every character in this crushingly breathtaking film was absent when the blessings of life were distributed.
The movie deals with death, mental illness, poverty, illegals, crime and corruption. Still, biuty — even beauty — ignites the screen.
While many serious contemporary films focus on men and women driven by greed, lust, pride and a few other deadly sins, Uxbal and the others in his grimy corner of the universe are motivated only by the will to survive. And miraculously, they rise above their agonizing circumstances with their fundamental humanity intact. They stumble along the darkest paths and yet they float above them.
It's difficult to imagine that this movie would be as powerful without Bardem (He has been nominated for a best actor Oscar), but the genius of director Alejandro González Iñárritu ("Babel" and "21 grams") can't be overestimated.
Movie Slut Rating: Five out of five lipsticks.