147 minutes| Spain-Mexico| 2010| Subtitled| Colour| D-Cinema

Maverick Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu’s best film since Amores perros, Biutiful deservedly won Javier Bardem the Best Actor award in Cannes last year. The Spaniard is quite simply immense as a good man trying to do his best for his kids while grafting away on the wrong side of the law in the backstreets of Barcelona. As someone who takes his cut while shuttling between corrupt police and Chinese sweatshop workers or African street-hawkers, Bardem’s protagonist is clearly no saint, but as the film gets immersed in his life it affectingly traces his efforts to bring some kindness to lives otherwise unvisited by compassion. Dealing with his estranged wife’s volatile bipolar disorder, and indeed the shadow of serious illness, Bardem has many trials to contend with, yet in this fallen world – captured in all its jarring unloveliness by lñarritu’s bravura camerawork – he’s a living embodiment of the notion that one man can make a difference. Bracing, incisive and uplifting, this is high-impact cinema. (Notes by Trevor Johnston).

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