“Biutiful”, a movie that sneaks into your soul
There is something in it that sticks to you… There is something in it that haunts you and doesn’t want to let go of you… There is something in it you cannot shake off…There is something in it that stays with you for a long time afterwards…. Is it Bardem’s eyes filled with a sea of sadness? Is it the fact that you’re watching your hidden personal nightmare come true on screen, the nightmare of knowing that you’re dying and leaving your child behind, utterly unprotected and without any safety nets? That you’re unwillingly abandoning the child to be tossed around by random forces of the indifferent world? Is it the fact that you are thrown without mercy into the underbelly of today’s world where any trace of compassion is punishable while relentless pursuit of profit at any cost is not only commendable but crucial for your own survival?
Ah, those tiny miserable crowded ugly rooms in which people, forgotten by society, try to simulate a “normal” living! The ugliness of poverty. The helplessness. The despair. The lack of dignity. And, despite all of that, a desperate will to make the best of it for your child. A will to help those in need. A will to stay human. To feel compassion. To stay connected and present.
The movie finds “biutiful” moments in absolute hopelessness and utter misery. It finds humanity in inhuman conditions that is the “normalcy” for the majority of people on this overcrowded, tortured and dying planet. I’m in awe of those artists who want to look that way, away from privilege and luxury and profit and the usual trickery filled with expensive, mindless special effects. I’m in awe of those who are brave enough to acknowledge the existence of “the other side” of the shiny coin of progress and success. I’m in awe and grateful for those who are brave enough to look under the polished rock and dirty their hands with the filth and ugliness that lies underneath. Which brings us to the sad state of the world, of course. The world we are leaving to our children. The world of cut throat competition where “all means necessary” are allowed, under the condition that they’re profitable. The world where there’s no compassion, no true understanding of causes and consequences, a world where Darwin’s “survival of the fittest” had become “survival of the most cunning” (Julian Barnes). A world of obscene riches and obscene poverty. A world of anesthetized citizens who don’t care about anything but their own success and prosperity in the form of new iPod and iPads and flat screen TVs.So, what do we do? Do we turn our eyes away from the misery and injustice and try to create our little separate private worlds in which we float with our eyes shut and our ears covered, so nothing can penetrate our lonely, isolated castles (or self imposed prisons, depending on the point of view we choose)? Or do we drown deep down into the misery in order to feel and understand, the way Inarritu did?
I don’t know. I don’t even pretend to have a clue.
But “Biutiful” reminded me of something that is so easily forgotten. The need of an artist to bravely step into the abyss in order to discover beauty under the filth. The need to jump into a pile of horrifying, disgusting and repulsive muck in order to find truth. Truth about oneself. Truth about what it means to be human.Thank you, Inarritu. Thank you, Bardem. Thank you for reminding me of this.