Greetings again from the darkness. If anyone tells you this film is a bit of a downer, never trust them again. It may be the bleakest, most dismal film I have ever seen (and that’s saying a lot!). A bit of downer does not do it justice. Still, I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. Javier Bardem is captivating and truly encompasses the character of Uxbal – a father of two, who has a connection to the dead, and is headed there himself (quickly).
Already I am sure many are turned off by the subject matter and the fact that it’s not an inspirational, feel-good movie. I would make the point that despite the despair, it does show the journey of a man seeking redemption and trying, with everything he has, to do right by his kids.
Director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu is a master filmmaker as evidenced by his work in 21 Grams and Babel. He gives us a real feel for the grungy and claustrophobic world that these people inhabit. We absolutely feel their pain and resolve and desperation and panic. We feel it for the entire 2 and a half hours running time. I should also mention that the film has what may be the most unusual score/soundtrack of any film in recent memory. There is no real continuity, it’s as if music was written for individual scenes, rather than for the entire film. Very effective, but very non-traditional.
If you can take the filmed depression, the pay off is watching Bardem work. I have often recommended his fascinating work in The Sea Inside, but as much as it pains me to agree with Julia Roberts, his performance here is somehow better. It’s no wonder why he felt the need to escape with Eat Pray Love after filming this one. It should be noted that Bardem is the first ever Lead Actor nominee for a full Spanish speaking role.
SEE THIS MOVIE IF: you want to see a masterful performance by Javier Bardem OR you thought 21 Grams and Babel were just a bit too funny and light-hearted.
SKIP THIS MOVIE IF: you couldn’t care less about acting proficiency and just want your movies to be feel good and uplifting