Writing in “The dark is just Biutiful to Alejandro González Iñárritu and Javier Bardem” Nicole Sperling of The Los Angeles Times explores the relationship between Biutiful director Alejandro González Iñárritu and its star, Javier Bardem.

“It was Oscar night 2001 and Iñárritu had just been overlooked by the academy — for the first time. The then-38-year-old filmmaker celebrated the defeat of his Amores Perros by drinking copious amounts of tequila with Sean Penn and Bardem, two men who would later serve as unlikely muses for the Mexican director,” Sperling writes.

Biutiful, which arrived in theaters in New York and Los Angeles on Dec. 29 in advance of a wide release late in January, debuted at the Cannes film festival this year and won Bardem an actor’s award. It received a Golden Globe nomination for best foreign film. At a recent screening moderated by Penn, the actor compared Bardem’s performance to Marlon Brando’s Oscar-nominated turn in Last Tango in Paris.

Bardem was willing to go down Biutiful‘s rabbit hole with his friend Iñárritu, an acting experience he says was unlike any other he’s had, because he connected to the character immediately. “There was something there that I understood emotionally, intellectually,” said Bardem. “I wanted to take that risk, to see if I could rob those moments that don’t belong to me, that you hope will never belong to you.”

“All the themes that are explored here are mine. Family diseases, emotional diseases, even fears,” said Iñárritu. “I have big offers to do Hollywood films, but when I’m doing this, I know that I have to do it. This comes from a deep, deep part of me. I have never done a job for a job, but this one I think was really close to me.”

Read the full piece here.

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