(On Cable TV, October 2018) There is a lot going on in writer/director Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Biutiful, and while not all of it makes sense or is properly developed, it does help maintain interest in a kind of film that I otherwise would find dull or ugly. Let’s see: Here we have a protagonist who’s not just estranged from the mother of his two children (sub-plot #1) but is also semi-psychic (#2), is dying of cancer (#3) and is involved in illegal immigration (#4) which lead to him welcoming the wife of a deported drug dealer in his apartment (#5). The issue here isn’t the number of subplots as much as they all seem to belong in different genres: their collision often smacks of contrivances, and I’ve left the most dramatic parts out of it. Fortunately, the film is anchored by a strong Oscar-nominated performance by Javier Bardem, who grounds even the most ludicrous content in reality, while remaining compelling enough to follow even when the film revels in unnecessary grimness and tragedy. There are plenty of ways Biutiful could have gone wrong, and yet it (mostly) stays interesting throughout as it goes for high drama and a weepy conclusion.