The question of what we would do with our lives if we knew our time on Earth was short is one many people struggle with, particularly after we lose someone close to us or have some other sort of traumatic event. It’s been the subject of many a movie but most of those answer the question very extravagantly in the style of The Bucket List or other movies that have people climbing mountains, jumping out of planes and otherwise going crazy. Any sort of reconciliation with loved ones is sort of in the background.
The new movie Biutiful, though, takes a much smaller approach. Javier Bardem stars as Uxbal, a man who lives with his wife and children in the slums of Barcelona, eking out a meager living through largely illegal activities. While he’s always done whatever he needs to for his family, what he wants most when he finds out he’s dying is for them to know he was a good man. So he engages on a journey of redemption that allows him to learn something new about himself at the same time he seeks to set things right with those around him.
The poster’s design has decided that the best way to sell the movie is to simply put Bardem front and center, which as a strategy is hard to argue with and is more or less in line with what we’ll see in the trailer. So it’s just his face looking of into the distance, Barcelona behind him, with the director’s and his name between that image and the title. It’s a bit raw looking, which with the expression on Bardem’s face combines to make the emotions he’s feeling felt also by the audience.
There’s not much story in the trailer but that doesn’t make it any less powerful. What it primarily shows is the world that these characters live in, a world of high levels of passion with lots of dancing with abandon, incredibly raw emotions and lots of love, all set in a world of near poverty, where those emotions and that passion are all that there is to hang on to.
What little of the story is laid out winds up being plenty, a testament to the fact that many trailers show just too damn much. We see in one of the jump cuts an image of Uxbal’s brain, which leads us to believe he has brain cancer or something along those lines. And in the one bit of dialogue that’s shown a woman asks him if he’s ready to leave, to which he replies that he’s not going to die.
It’s an incredibly moving trailer that really sells the fact that Bardem’s performance here is the focal point of the movie and that he absolutely kills it.
The movie’s official website opens with an invitation to once again watch the movie’s trailer, which is very much worth done.
The first section on the site is “About” and is where there’s a good Synopsis that presents the film as a character study of a troubled man. The Production Notes that are there are also excellent, with brief bits of insight from director Alejandro González Iñárritu on the film as a whole and Bardem on his character Uxbel as well as Cast and Filmmaker backgrounds and bios.
“Videos” has the Trailer and three extended clips from the movie that run about 30 seconds each and which show various sides of Uxbel’s character. There are eight stills from the movie in the “Photos” section.
There’s a really good Blog on the site as well that brings in and links to some of the positive publicity and early reviews the film has gotten. There are a couple technical things I could quibble with but won’t since this is well put together from a content perspective and I wish I’d known about it sooner.
Many of those links are included in the updates on the movie’s Facebook page in addition the usual photos and videos. There’s also a place for visitors to write a note, presumably about the movie or their experiences that parallel those faced by Uxbel. They’re all in Spanish so I can’t really tell, but I like the idea of giving people a place to share.
Advertising and Cross Promotions
Nothing that I’ve seen or come across stories about. This is a small movie with a limited budget and tough subject matter so it’s not like I was expecting a massive push here.
Media and Publicity
Most of the press for the movie has been praises for Bardem’s performance that’s come from early reviews. There’s been some movement in the last couple weeks for him to get an Oscar or some other form of nomination since it’s consistently been called out as one of the most moving and deep of the year.
This certainly isn’t a “feel good” campaign by any stretch of the imagination. The marketing here sells what appears on all counts to be a depressing and heart-wrenching movie. It’s also – and largely because of that previous point – not a mainstream campaign. The marketing sells a challenging film that’s going to not only present a world that’s unlike anything the audience is likely familiar with but also one that’s going to push them outside their emotional comfort zones.
The biggest thing the campaign does right is put Bardem front and center. Not only does his performance here appear to be a tour de force but he’s modestly known here in the states. So featuring him makes a ton of sense.
The other thing it does right is convey the tone and overall feel of the movie, which appears to be minimalistic in its affectations yet with harsh tones and big emotions being presented and conveyed through that approach. It’s a striking campaign for a movie that’s high on my list of movies to see.