DRAMA; 1hr 27min (Spanish with subtitles)
STARRING: Javier Bardem, Maricel Alvarez
The pain in Spain: Bardem
Javier Bardem carries a lifetime of pain in film-maker Alejandro González Iñárritu’s seamy powerhouse. As Uxbal, a paradoxical Barcelona petty crim trying to hold his miserable life together and care for his two young kids (Hanaa Bouchaib and Guillermo Estrella), he’s burdened, despondent and terminally sick.
Uxbal’s working world is the backstreet squalor of sweatshops whose illegal workers he simultaneously attempts to protect and use. Bardem, a shaggy lion of a man, endures it with sad resignation that can spill into anger. He breaks the law to get by, yet Uxbal is deeply spiritual and can commune with the dead. And although he’s surrounded by people in a city that teems with them, he is also fundamentally alone. His on-off relationship with his mercurial, bipolar wife, Marambra (the wonderful Alvarez), is a complication of joy and destruction: in that, as in everything else, he’s barely hanging on. So deep is the pit Uxbal has dug for himself that climbing free seems impossible. But the unexpected beauty of his lyrical, gut-punching journey is that deliverance can take many forms.