Heavy-handed grown-up drama has lots of mature content.
  • Review Date: December 21, 2010
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2010
  • Running Time: 148 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Uxbal is a good man who tries to help others; even when things go wrong, the movie makes it clear that his intentions were good -- which is a positive take-away. That said, in this movie there are only a few tiny rewards for a life full of misery.

Positive role models

Uxbal tries to do his best for those around him, even if his attempts sometimes turn out badly. Though he could be accused of exploiting immigrants, he truly believes that he's helping them. He proves that he actually cares about them by his deeds. He also helps grieving families by "speaking" with their recently dead loved ones. He attempts to help his ex-wife as well, though his patience with her is quite a bit thinner, and he's also seen getting angry with his children.


There's a very disturbing sequence involving the death of more than 20 immigrant workers, who meet their end due to a malfunctioning heater. This is followed by a gruesome attempt to get rid of the bodies. Cops chase people through the streets and beat them with clubs. Viewers see a fresh, bloody corpse, as well as an old, embalmed corpse. The main character urinates blood on more than one occasion. Characters yell at one another around the dinner table. Some creepy figures can be glimpsed on the ceiling, looking down at the hero.


The main character's ex-wife is seen fully naked. She gets physical with her ex's brother, climbing on top of him and kissing him. Other scenes include the same woman kissing her ex-husband and trying to give him oral sex and two men kissing, with one rubbing the other's crotch. A scene takes place in a sex club where the dancers wear weird costumes consisting of naked body parts in all the wrong places.


Many uses of "f--k" and "s--t," as well as "damn," "a--hole," "d--k," "son of a bitch," and "for God's sake."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Many characters smoke cigarettes, including teens and younger kids. One boy is said to have smoked (viewers don't see him), and he accidentally sets his mattress on fire. The main character drinks beer on many occasions. The street sellers are said to be dealing drugs on the side, though viewers don't see much. A scene in a club features lots of drinking and some cocaine use; the main character gets completely wasted after a night out.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this mature drama from Oscar-nominated director Alejandro González Iñárritu (Babel) is a heavy, lengthy movie filled with adult themes -- including crime, death, disease, adultery, sex, and drugs. There are many violent, scary, and disturbing images, the worst of which is a warehouse full of dead bodies killed by a malfunctioning gas heater. Very strong language includes dozens of uses of "f--k" and "s--t." There's also female nudity and sex, and characters both drink and snort cocaine. Many characters also smoke, including teens (an even younger character is said to be smoking, though vifewers don't see this). Overall the mood is very downbeat, but there are a few moments of hope and inspiration.

Kids say

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What's the story?

Uxbal (Javier Bardem) lives a complicated life in Barcelona. He makes his living as a kind of middleman between Chinese businessmen, Chinese laborers, and Senegalese immigrants who sell cheap goods on the street. Trouble arises when he learns that the salesmen are also hustling drugs on the side. And then his bipolar, drug-addicted ex-wife (Maricel Alvarez) re-enters his life and tries to establish a shaky connection with Uxbal's two children. He must also decide whether to sell his father's burial plot to a company that wants the land. And in the midst of trying his best to help everyone involved, Uxbal learns that he has cancer. All of this is balanced with the secret part of him: his power to communicate with the dead.

Is it any good?


Acclaimed Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu (21 Grams, Babel) often outlines complex stories with a heavy hand, and it could be argued that his serious, socially aware tales are designed more for awards and accolades than they are for personal or artistic reasons. For example, the hand-held camerawork in BIUTIFUL continually draws attention to itself.

Though Biutiful -- the title, taken from a child's drawing, is deliberately misspelled -- is dedicated to the filmmaker's father, it throws everything but the kitchen sink (and even that) into its plot, including cancer, supernatural forces, divorce, death, bipolar disorders, and adultery. It's just as busy and serious as Iñárritu's earlier films, but it does have the benefit of a one main character rather than a big ensemble. In his role, Bardem gives a terrific, organic performance that gives the movie soul, and even beauty.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the movie's use of sex and violent images. How do these things change the tone of the movie? Do they make Uxbal's story more intense? More downbeat?

  • Is Uxbal a good person? Do you like this character? What are some of the good things he does over the course of the movie? What about the bad things? How do they compare? Would you call him a role model?

  • In one scene, characters discuss how a young boy has smoked cigarettes. Is there a penalty for his actions? What about for the other characters who smoke? Does smoking look enticing in this movie, or is it a turn-off?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:December 29, 2010
DVD release date:May 31, 2011
Cast:Guillermo Estrella, Javier Bardem, Maricel Alvarez
Director:Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
Studio:Roadside Attractions
Run time:148 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:disturbing images, language, some sexual content, nudity and drug use

This review of Biutiful was written by

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Parent of a 16 year old Written byjack son e February 28, 2011
This is a very complex movie and while most people will probably not understand the message of hope and continuing emotional stress/encouraging aspects that it presents to the viewer, people who are not total morons should be able to take away something powerful and emotional from the beautiful film.


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