American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's “Biutiful” stars the Oscar-nominated Javier Bardem as a low-level criminal in Barcelona who is told by his doctor he has very little time to live. He works as a middleman in an industry that makes fake luxury items in sweatshops and sells them to tourists via sidewalk vendors. You've seen the Gucci bags lined up on pavements. He's also involved in importing and housing the undocumented Chinese workers who exist in poverty and manufacture the items. Both fake Gucci and real Gucci are made by poor people, but the real Guccis are made in China.
Uxbal's life is a mess. He is separated from his wife, who is bipolar. He tries to care for the sons he loves. He is under urgent pressure from his criminal associates; he oversees the living conditions of the factory's illegal immigrants. There is blood in his urine. He works in crime, but is not a bad man, and indeed under sentence of death, he is moved, like the hero of Kurosawa's "Ikiru," to try to do something good.
One gesture he makes ends in tragic consequences. His workers are cold in their crowded basement, and he tries to alleviate that condition. He also tries to make some money in the process. He's devastated. Surely few actors have faces that project sorrow more completely than Bardem.