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.



Reviews Counted: 151

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Average Rating: 3.7/5

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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)

  • 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

This sad and depressing drama wants to rely on an unbearable sense of tragedy that doesn't always feel genuine, but even so it benefits from a strong performance by Bardem, who is able to inject some complexity into his character despite the rather artificial plot.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

"Biutiful" is a near masterpiece of human suffering, dank realism, and redemption; being that this is the fourth film from the acclaimed Iñárritu, you should already get the hint that it tends to focuses on the former instead of the latter. Make no mistake, this is a heavy film in every sense of the word, and that might isolated viewers. But "Biutiful" is more than it's plot synopsis suggests. Iñárritu balances many complex themes effectively, and though the tale concerns a dying man coming to terms with it's predicament, "Biutiful" doesn't pigeonhole itself. It's as expansive and broad as the director's ambitious, multicontinental opus "Babel" from 2006. Javier Bardem gives one of the performances of his career here, and is the reason that the picture is so emotionally devastating and honest, without feeling forcefully so (which is miraculous considering the pigment of it's subject matter). It's a testament to the films craft that even it's unexpected supernatural elements are handled with such conviction, never making a conflict in tone or logic. Unrelentingly Grim, and yes...beautiful, this is in many ways Iñárritu's finest work to date. Same goes for Bardem.

Michael S
Michael S

Super Reviewer

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 Morris
Josh Morris

Super Reviewer

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 Hunter
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

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