So what does one do after trying to explain in an accident, connecting and interconnecting incidents in a chaos that just might be too hard to completely and satisfactorily justify in just three films? He goes on by getting salvation from all the explaining he had done earlier. Biutiful is Inarittu‘s meditation and Javier Bardem‘s Uxbal was the on screen messiah he chose to convey all those human accidents that occur in a man’s day-to-day pulsating life, no matter what could possibly happen on the outside world. An introvert‘s film.
What can speed his narrative process? By letting the man die. He in fact says he is in free fall. The concept of making the protagonist a dying man sets an emotional fulcrum for a better pace in storytelling. All characters seem to live on screen. But here is someone making his onscreen living count. We are all dying anyways, it is same as living. We all sleep in an omnipresent paranoia, but here is a man who is coming to terms with his deep sleep.
But surprisingly the film is paced in its own melancholy its dealing with. A dying man. It is weird that I felt it was the most disarming Inarittu film I have seen. It seemed like an expansion on Sean Penn’s Paul River, the dying mathematician segment. There is the difficulty in urinating, an Inarittu symbol of hopeless helplessness which decides the rock bottom of human ego. This was seen in Babel too, where Cate Blanchett’s Susan Jones had the same trouble and Richard (Brad Pitt)helps her and thereby reaffirms their love.
So, the man is going to die. He begins to see himself for what he believes and loves. He tries to forgive his bipolar wife, Maramba,(manic depression)and who is currently sleeping with his brother. He wants to bring back those days in the photos, those back-in-the-days moments. He starts to realize , “Has it become too late?”, when it really has become too late. The film travels to a silent, familiar place. A place where Gustavo Santaolallo’s non-diegetic sounds subscribes magic as you begin to suffer a familiar voyeuristic fever. A place where Inarittu’s childlike interconnecting puzzle game, invests your interest into the life of a Senegalese mother Ige and her husband Ekweme more than for what it’s worth. A place where you care, just like any other 10 year old girl’s birthday needs to be remembered by her, as her long lasting memory.
There is this character, a neighbour of sorts, who appears in the film. Her name is Bea , (it could be us too) and Uxbal (Bardem)cries to her out of sheer futility. There is no one else in the film he willingly tells about his prostate cancer, except her and/or us. There in, the film becomes personal and later, the film almost gives full space to Bardem in every way you could possibly think as it begins to intensify with a sense of cathartic intent, making every second of his face count. There are subtle surrealistic images thrown out in the open right from the beginning. It reminds you of Morrison’s face of death, which has almost become a believable myth “that people start seeing people as they near death, a vision into their inevitable future”.
It still feels like Bardem’s best was The Sea Inside. Unlucky for Inarittu, actually. Almost the same human demons to be dealt with. But it is fascinating that this Bigas Luna boy toy character is able to carry a whole film on his own with just his face. Yes,it is not quite just his charm, but an unforgettable face that forces you to give attention to Bardem for whatever creases he makes on his forehead, eyes et al , never ceases to throw you off the emotional field that the film constructs.
The film begins and ends with a conversation that has underlying emotions. That sums up the whole film. Underlining with emotions. There is not much in the surface to read.
Life is as biutiful as however way we want to spell it and ofcourse however much we are willing to read into it.