2010. 148 minutes. Spain. Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu. Watchdate: 2/28/2011.
The critical judgments of value have as their starting point a need for dramatical verisimilitude, a blooming, rich, even overwhelming vein of emotional realism, together with those aspects required to maintain these qualities—fine actorly performances, a throbbing plot, children or a yearning in their absence, nudity of some sort or another, and, in general, everything which involves adults qua adults feeling their oats yet feeling guilty about it. My method of evaluating has, as you might imagine, other preconditions.
Therefore I will grant Biutiful a sturdy hand for the beautiful performance of Javier Bardem, though this is mainly for the moment after he discovers the results of his own tragic carelessness before ending up numb-stuck in the neon darkness of a sleazy titty bar. This isn't your father's triptych, and it profits from a sense of divine focus on the hard decisions of the present.
Of course, as is well known, critics are the most evil of enemies—but why? Because they are powerless. From their petty lack of power, their nibbling metastasizes among them into something enormous and stupefying, to the most profound and venomous iterations. Yet movies like Biutiful would be a really stupid affair without that spirit which entered it from the critics.