Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's 'Biutiful' day

Picture has different layers of meaning for helmer

CANNES -- As something of a perfectionist, he usually vomits when reacting to the final version of his own films. But to his very emotionally intense, jagged-edged tone poem "Biutiful," Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu said he feels completely satisfied with the end result.

"I'm usually very critical of myself. But with this one I still react and it still has meaning for me, more layers each time I see it," he told reporters during a press conference following the Monday premiere of his Competition pic.

As for the overall meaning of this complex tale of corruption, the Mexican director contended that this was the most hopeful of his films to date. "I think that there's a lot of forgiveness in the film," he said. "It's not anthrax, or terrorism or AIDS that is the worst ill in our world: The most horrible disease in the world is hate."

The helmer went on to say that, to his mind, we have as a culture, with our tweets and our cell phones, "been getting so far away from real intimate experience and from each other." In this respect, the cancer in the film is not just a physical malady but spreads to the entire underbelly of society, with its exploitation of the helpless and emarginated.

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Interestingly, "Butiful" is in many ways the obverse of his last pic, "Babel," in that rather than spreading itself across several countries, cultures, languages and plots, the current pic centers exclusively and relentlessly on one character, as played by Javier Bardem, and on one city (though on several cultures).

"I was so exhausted after globe-trotting around the world -- no more Japanese, Morrocan or English, I said. I want to do this in Spanish." Inarritu also said he had gone through enough exercises in complicated narrative and this time wanted to go with the rigor of linear exploration.

As for working with the helmer, Bardem, who is in almost every scene, said it was indeed "intense." Creating such an emotionally draining role as that of a man dying of cancer while trying to hold his family together -- and dealing with a corruption ring at the same time -- was, in the actor's words "rewarding," and rewarding to go places that had meaning.

"Alejandro protects actors. He takes care of the delicacies of the performance," Bardem said.

The director returned the compliment. "I found that less is more when it came to the dialog," he said. "It requires a lot of talent, maturity to hold back things, and to suggest (emotions) with minimal words. Javier played very subtle notes."

Asked by one reporter whether he preferred to play funny roles or these more depressing ones, a bemused Bardem demurred, "What are those funny roles? In any case, I like movies that have meaning. Plus, how much they pay, and where the locations are ..."
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