In his Oscar-winner, “No Country For Old Men,” he plays a soulless psychopathic killer, yet seems positively Christlike as he endures excruciating agony, self-stitching up his gunshot wounds in a motel bathroom.
“Biutiful” has him back in the bathroom, urinating blood and looking Heavenward as he suffers cancer’s torture. He shows such grace that he makes it ennobling and almost worthwhile.
Here, he’s no psychopath, though as Uxbal, he travels through shadowy circles in a bad part of Barcelona, running interference for Chinese sweatshop workers and African street venders of counterfeit merchandise. A devoted, but divorced father, he cares for his two young children, who must survive a love-hate relationship with their alcoholic bipolar mother, Marambra (Marcel Alvarez).
Truly a saint in the city, Uxbal has every insurmountable obstacle thrown his way, including the sudden mass death of his beloved Chinese immigrants due to a miscalculation on his part.
Directed and co-written by Alejandro González Iñárritu (“Babel”), “Biutiful” is a strangely serene film about how a man’s goodness can carry him through overwhelming adversity and into The Other Side, where there is no place for pain. The movie could have no better guide than Javier Bardem.