I Bet You Thought “Iguanas In Denmark”

A Movie Review of “Biutiful” by Matthew Muccia

The underbelly of Barcelona, Spain is where we find our protagonist Uxbal (Javier Bardem). Very early on in the film we discover that he is diagnosed with cancer. He is seen passing blood and is given only “months” to live…

The film’s director, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, follows Uxbal very intimately throughout the later stages of his life. He is seen committing immoral acts as he hustles throughout his day, but as life closes in on him these “choices” may not be as “wrong” as we the viewer first believe.

Unlike the filmmaker’s past films which contain multiple stories, layered and wound together, Biutiful forces us to follow a single, simple but intense line of narration.

Uxbal’s life is not what most of us would dream of. The estranged mother of his children is reckless and a danger to their boy and girl. The family reconciles momentarily only to result in her hitting their son because he wet the bed. She than proceeds to leave him home alone to take her daughter on a camping trip.

At one point she professes to Uxbal, “I just want to have fun…like a whore”.

Now you may ask yourself, “Why See This Film?”

To me it is an intense case study of an individual trying to simply survive life in horribly bleak conditions. When we stop projecting our own morality upon this character, we see without judgment the struggles and difficulties of another persons life, and we are drawn to Uxbal because we see clearly the devotion he has to his children.

In a scene where Uxbal is brushing his daughter’s hair, his son plays a trick on him by saying…

“Think of a country that begins with the letter ‘D’, now think of an animal that begins with ‘I’…”I bet you are thinking of an Iguana in Denmark”.

Uxbal responds with genuine surprise… “How did you know that?” and  he smiles, and we clearly see the affection he has for his son.

There is nothing uplifting about Uxbal’s professional life however. He earns his coin by running a sweatshop filled with Chinese workers and pushes counterfeit goods to  irreputable dealers.

There is something strange about Uxbal that we have not yet mentioned… He is a psychic with a special gift.  He sees dead people and Barcelonians pay him richly for these services.  He can see dead people and so in turn he can see that his own death is coming.

And it is this knowledge of his own mortality that drives the choices and decisions that Uxbal must make.

What would you do today if you knew you had only three weeks left to live?


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