Inarritu said, though, that “Biutiful” is not a movie with a sweeping theme about politics or despair — rather it is the story of a dying man discovering what is most important as life runs out.
The main character, Uxbal, played by Oscar-winning Spanish actor Javier Bardem, lives and works in a Barcelona slum as a middleman for African and Chinese migrants who is dealing with a bipolar ex-wife and trying to make ends meet for his two children.
Though the raw portrait of migrant life and their exploitation is a key secondary theme, the tragedies that unfold are not a commentary on immigration, Inarritu said. “I’m not trying to make them victims or saints,” he said. “I’m just trying to integrate them into a dialogue, show that they’re human beings with virtues and flaws, with their needs as parents and children.”