I saw them all in chronological order:
1. Amores Perros
2. 21 Grams
Biutiful starring Javier Bardem is a wonderful film. I’m also amazed when I watch a “slow-moving” film and find myself just as engrossed if not more so, than I normally find myself in something that moves along at a much faster pace (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford comes to mind).
I simply could not stop watching Biutiful. Javier Bardem stars as Uxbal a single father who lives in modern day Barcelona. Uxbal is a black marketer who is diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer. As time runs out he makes an effort to “put things right” in his life and come to grips with his impending death. It is a great meditation on life, death, family (the scenes with Uxbal’s dead father are so amazing), and the after life.
Inarritu presents Barcelona as practically a fourth world city. Many of the Spanish citizens as well as many African and Chinese immigrants struggle to provide for themselves and their families in whatever way they can. The story is great and Bardem’s performance is one of the best I’ve seen.
After watching Biutiful I decided to re-watch 21 Grams because it is available on Netflix Instant Watch. It is a great film as well. I did not like it as much as Biutiful but it is a lovely film with great performances by Sean Penn and Benicio del Toro. It has more of the classic Inarritu plot/scene jumping around, moving back and forth, and then ending up tying all together than Biutiful. I want to say Biutiful was a little more on the “classic” side in regard to plotting.
I hope you will watch them both, but I especially hope you take the time to see Biutiful. It is not the feel good hit of the summer. It is sad and soul wrenching, but immensely hopeful and spiritually powerful.