Uxbal (Javier Bardem) is raising two kids in Barcelona while also dealing with their bipolar mom (Maricel Álvarez), fixing work for illegal immigrants, and coming to grips with the fact that he’s dying of prostate cancer. Alejandro González Iñárritu’s first Spanish-speaking film since Amores Perros (2000) takes some time before we get fully engaged in Uxbal’s life and struggle. This is a relentlessly dark journey, but there’s poetry in the cinematography and Uxbal’s closeness to death. A touching humanity is balanced with a heartbreaking lack of it; a rewarding experience if you have the patience to stick with it. Another bonus is Bardem’s exceptional performance.
2010-Spain-Mexico. 148 min. Color. Produced by Fernando Bovaira, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Jon Kilik. Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu. Screenplay: Alejandro González Iñárritu, Armando Bo, Nicolás Giacobone. Cinematography: Rodrigo Prieto. Music: Gustavo Santaollala. Cast: Javier Bardem (Uxbal), Maricel Álvarez (Marambra), Hanaa Bouchaib (Ana), Guillermo Estrella, Eduard Fernández, Cheikh Ndiaye.
Trivia: Co-produced by Guillermo del Toro.
Cannes: Best Actor (Bardem).
Last word: “I tried to make the film through the point of view of one single character, which was Uxbal. But, honestly, I just want to splash some other elements or planets that would be orbiting around this sun. Very clearly, I tried not to lose the dramatic tension or the journey of this guy who is trying to put things together before he leaves. All those things included the extreme compassion, forgiveness and the moral decisions that he has to make, and all the things that he got back, as he’s losing his life. He got a lot of spiritual and moral things, while he’s physically fighting the war. That was the game that I was playing with.” (Iñárritu, Collider)