There was great excitement when the winners of the prizes at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival were announced. The Thai surreal film, Lung Boonme Raluek Chat (Uncle Boonme who can recall his past lives) won the Palme d’Or. This is the most prized award for any director and Apichatpong Weerasethakul seemed no less thrilled to receive his golden palm than any previous recipient.
Spain’s profile was kept at its usual high level by Javier Bardem, who won one of the Best Performers awards for his role in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s latest film, Biutiful. This groundbreaking Mexican director is always guaranteed to attract attention; his last big success, Babel, was nominated for a Best Motion Picture Academy Award in 2007 and Barcelona-based Biutiful looks likely to generate the same buzz.
Partly funded by Televisión Española, this film tells the story of a troubled man – played by Bardem – whose life is in immediate danger of implosion. The official synopsis reads: “A man involved in illegal dealing is confronted by his childhood friend, who is now a policeman. At the heart of Biutiful is the intimate, powerful story of Uxbal, a man who finds himself desperately alone, trying to maintain his balance between survival in a marginal neighbourhood and safeguarding the future of his young children who are floating aimlessly through life.”
In short it is the type of part that is well within the range of this extraordinary actor, who has played characters ranging from No Country for Old Men’s monosyllabic psychopath to the quadraplegic euthanasia campaigner, Ramón Sampedro in Mar Adentro.
Launched in 1946, the Cannes Film Festival is one of the industry’s most eagerly awaited annual events. Traditionally, moviegoers and film professionals look to the films premiered there as the best releases of the forthcoming year, so Biutiful will have already attracted attention, which can only be good news for its director, cast and financial backers.