Ever been on holiday to Barcelona? Personally I think it’s over-rated but after you watch this film you’ll wonder why anyone would ever want to go there. This is the side of the Spanish playground that the tourists definitely don’t see. In his first feature film since Babel, Iñárritu returns with the bleak, harrowing but utterly brilliant tale of Uxbal who is a single parent struggling with everything that life can possibly throw at him.

Iñárritu weaves an interconnected web of lives through which Uxbal falls as he is diagnosed with terminal cancer. There is his estranged Wife and mother of his children who is a bipolar addict teetering on the verge of relapse. His playboy and business associate brother with whom he runs various illegal operations involved in people trafficking and exploitation. A Chinese businessman who can’t deal with his homosexuality. A Senegalese street seller forced to risk imprisonment to try and support his young Wife and child. Each character is beautifully played with the threads gradually tightening around Uxbal at the centre. In a delicate touch of surreality Uxbal has the gift to communicate with the dead who are not at rest. In less experienced hands this could have been completely naff but is masterly used to add greater depth to his plight with excellent editing.

As the film progresses Uxbal becomes desperate to safeguard his children. Despite his criminal connections he’s always trying to do the right thing. This focal performance by Javier Bardem won him Best Actor at Cannes and an Academy Award nomination along with the film which was also nominated as Best Foreign Language Film. This is a multilayered film with almost too much to say. The role of chance, choice and fate intertwine. If you need a pick me up this it not for you, but if you can cope with being bound, gagged and having life rammed in your face then brace yourself. A superbly crafted raw film. In Spanish with English subtitles.

Posted in 2010, DVD | Leave a comment

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