Sunday, February 6, 2011

Hardly Biutiful

Last night I saw Inarritu's new film, "Biutiful," starring Javier Bardem. I won't say much about it except that my greatest regret is that I did not walk out after the first excruciating hour (of two-and-a-half). I don't know who thinks this sort of film edifying, enlightening or beautiful, I but am not one of them. I found it self-indulgent, plangent, over-wrought and utterly lacking in either insight or revelation.

Leaving aside the fact that fully forty minutes of this hyper-depressing tale could have been cut without loss, I find myself still wondering what it was all meant to be about. There was absolutely no logic to the structure, which meandered from doldrum to doldrum apparently without concern for either the characters or the audience, leading me to observe to my companion that the film might never actually end. There was no reason for it to do so, since there was neither plan nor point in its interminable concatenation of scenes. "We could be here until next year," I whispered, and, indeed, by the time the film finally panted to a conclusion, it felt as if we had been.

I don't want to devote much more time to it. Bardem, who has shown himself to be a very good actor, was inexorably blue (literally and figuratively), maintained an unchanging dreary expression, unshaved, unrelieved, and uninspired. His wife, as a character, is not to be mentioned: so utterly worthless and hapless as to be comical in her more plaintive moments. A whining bipolar whore who alternately dotes on, beats and abandons her children, she claims resurrection by virtue of staring into a light box. This would have been funny if there were not children involved.

As for the two-score Chinese peasants washed up on the shores of Barcelona (one of whom ends up stuck to the ceiling in the main character's apartment); the main character's claim to be able to speak to the dead (for money), a subplot that goes nowhere; the homosexual subplot of the Chinese sweatshop managers that goes nowhere; the politically correct subplot of the Senegalese drug traffickers, that goes nowhere (the wife of one is last seen taking a train from Barcelona to Senegal - a train!); and the repeated scenes of domestic eating, bloody urination, counting and recounting Euros, the less said the better.

To those of you who may have seen the film I offer this warning: Forget opening the fridge in your bare feet -- watch out for the damn space heaters.