Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Biutiful finds Inarritu making many of the same mistakes he made with his previous film, Babel. This film, like his last, takes on too much and, in doing so, sacrifices development and audience patience. Inarritu’s concerns are very grand; here is dealing with death (cancer), poverty, family, love, illegal immigration, drugs, sweatshops, etc. If all this sounds daunting it’s because it is. Innaritu is a talented filmmaker and has an eye for finding the beautiful in the mundane, in the dirty, and in poverty, but he needs to edit himself more. The film could have succeeded if he had left out some of the interconnected stories and allowed the main characters and ideas to fully develop. Take for example, the subplot of the gay Chinese men who are running the sweatshop; there is nothing wrong with this story in particular and it would even work well in another film, but because Inarritu is exploring so much here, this plotline is left underdeveloped and, therefore, feels a bit added on and unfinished. In other words, this just doesn’t work. This is similar to the Japanese sequence in Babel, which was actually quite good, but didn’t fit with the rest of the film. This has been my main concern with Inarritu in his last two films: sometimes less can be more. 21 Grams was successful because it jumped between a very small group of people in more intimate settings; it was easier to manage, handle, and develop into a coherent film where all the ideas are fully realized. As Inarritu’s ideas have gotten bigger, however, he has become less critical of himself and tends to favor more rather than a little less. A little less would have gone a long way in making Biutiful a far more successful film. Overall, the film is good and, as I said, has some very beautiful moments, so it is definitely worth seeing. At the same time, it is pretty relentlessly sad and dark and bites off more than it can chew.

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