Critics Consensus

Javier Bardem's searing performance helps to elevate Biutiful, as does Alejandro González Iñárritu's craftsmanship, but the film often lapses into contrivance and grimness.



Total Count: 151


Audience Score

User Ratings: 21,362
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Movie Info

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. -- (C) Roadside Attractions

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Critic Reviews for Biutiful

All Critics (151) | Top Critics (40) | Fresh (99) | Rotten (52)

  • Iñárritu's trademark interwoven plots have one thread too many here, but this shattering experience-earthbound and fraught with the afterlife-is worth every undying minute.

    Feb 7, 2018 | Full Review…

    Caryn James

    Top Critic
  • Javier Bardem was Oscar-nominated for his performance and the film got a nod for best foreign-language film, but don't let that fool you; it's a stodgy, self-important slog.

    Mar 31, 2011 | Rating: 1/5 | Full Review…
  • Iñárritu has a delicate yet searing sense of intimacy, which cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto captures with hand-held determination.

    Feb 11, 2011 | Rating: 3.5/4
  • Watch Bardem here -- his eyes speak heart-rending volumes.

    Feb 11, 2011 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • With the exception of an otherworldly prologue that remains mysterious well into the film, Biutiful is an unusually linear feature for Iñárritu, but no less involving or challenging than his previous works Babel, 21 Grams and Amores Perros.

    Feb 10, 2011 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • When life is less inviting than death, the eye of the beholder is inclined to look away.

    Feb 4, 2011 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Biutiful

  • Jul 16, 2013
    <i>PIRINEOS IS BIUTIFUL</i> For once, we witness for the first time a feature film that does not play with interrelated stories as Iñárritu had intended to construct a multicultural trilogy beforehand, and the result is of a highly respectable quality. <i>Biutiful</i> is, in my humble opinion, the proof of a couple of points: 1) Do not care about the budget nor the financial response at the box office; stay making films in your motherland and the quality of your films is most likely to remain high (Del Toro, Cuarón, I'm watching you!) 2) Do not care if the story about a man with a troubled past, with a terminal death-conducing illness and a turbulent family present state have been treated several times in the past; stay true to your characters, your vision on life and the motivations behind the characters, and you will always have something of quality to bring to the table for reflection. Bardem's performance is astounding. Iñárritu and Reygadas are my only hopes for Mexican films still being put in the international map. Yet, if I had to bet for one, it would be Reygadas despite his worldwide hatred. As long as both directors keep bringing suppressive environments and strong stories worth being told, and as long as both are nominated at the Cannes Film Festival like they still do, everything's fine. 84/100
    Edgar C Super Reviewer
  • Dec 27, 2012
    Biutiful is a long, endlessly bleak gloomfest made worthwhile by a transcendetal performance by the great Javier Bardem. The talented filmmaker Alejandro Innaritu provides a backdrop rich with detail and atmosphere. All his other tragic films, (worth seeing) contain multiple story lines, in the case of Babel, set all over the world, but somehow tied together. These multiple story lines somehow leaven the atmosphere and make the films very eclectic and watchable. Here, for the first time, he focuses on the devastation of one guy in one self contained scenario - and what devastation! And unlike the book of Job, there's no interesting debate on the nature of god or an explanation of the meaning of it all. The setting is present day Barcelona among the underclass of illegal immigrants, smugglers, hooker and drug dealer/users. What I quarrel with is that Innaritu has jam packed the woes suffered by Bardem to include, just for a start!!, terminal cancer, two cute kids, who happen to have an irresponsible hooker addict mother (who is sleeping with Bardem's brother), Bardem being complicit in the mass murder of illegal Chinese immigrants who work in a hidden sweat shop. The thrust of the drama is wondering whether Bardem will find a way to get his affairs in order before his inevitable death a few weeks hence. There's almost no break for the tragedy, and therefore, one becomes benumbed to the pain quite early in the two hour and forty five minute running time. I don't know what message he's after here other than life sucks and everyone you're close to will always let you down and the kids will be the ones to suffer. Also, if you think the lovely Gaudi buildings will at least give some visual relief from the misery, you'll be let down. They are never shown. Instead, it's the mouldy appartments and mean streets of the armpit of Barcelona. If this wallow in hell appeals, it's certainly worth a rental, and Bardem is really worth watching. The real tragedy is that his performance was not in a more balanced and multi-faceted film, but in a dirge like wallow of misery.
    Josh M Super Reviewer
  • Nov 01, 2012
    Rating: 3.5 stars Arthouse Rating: 3 stars++ Imagine a ghettoized version of Breaking Bad, that's close to what you have in Biutiful. Javier Bardem had one of the most memorable performances of 2010, and deserved his Oscar nomination . The camera worked uniquely and flawlessly, every moment and every reaction was eventually caught. The best Cinemetography I've seen in 2010 film outside of True Grit. It wasn't an original idea, and it was predictable, despite this though it was emotionally grueling and well played
    Daniel D Super Reviewer
  • Oct 13, 2012
    After discovering that he is dying of cancer, a father and smuggler tries to "put his affairs in order." Javier Bardem can do anything. He chilled in No Country for Old Men, he made us laugh in Vicki Christina Barcelona, and his dramatic work in The Dancer Upstairs and The Sea Inside enthralls. And now he brings us Uxbal, a soulful, damaged father who is hard to classify. His profession as a smuggler of illegal immigrants who are essentially slave labor makes him "bad," but when he buys them heaters and frets over the best care for his children, he immediately earns our sympathy. Bardem plays all the nuances. He can scare as readily as he can inspire tears. His work in this film is beyond compare, and if I had seen this film in 2011, I might have changed my Oscar vote (not that I have a vote). Writer/director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu mines familiar territory, and anyone who has seen 21 Grams won't be surprised to see themes of faith, spirituality, and fate explored in this film. But the universality of these themes and Inarritu's deftness as a filmmaker make Biutiful seem fresh, more original than his other films. Uxbal seems to have the ability to speak to the dead, and people occasionally perch from the ceiling, which I think is Inarritu's way of showing their souls watching the characters. With all the good filmmaking in Biutiful, the wonderfully human story of a father making sure his kids are well-cared-for after his death, I don't think the film needs this element - the speaker for the dead subplots - in order to be successful. Overall, Biutiful is indeed beautiful, made more so by one of the master actors of our time.
    Jim H Super Reviewer

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