In just 10 years Alejandro González Iñárritu has become the old guard of Mexican cinema. One of the 'Three Amigos' with co-conspirators Alfonso Cuarón and Guillermo del Toro, his film, Amores perros, helped reignite the country's film industry on the international stage.
The results of what they started can be seen in Cannes's Critics Week selection where a feature-length collection of shorts celebrating the centenary of the Mexican revolution features young Mexican directors like Gael Garcia Bernal, Carlos Reygadas and Gerardo Naranjo. It's a project that likely wouldn't have existed without the Amigos' renaissance of the early 2000s.
So Iñárritu's return to the screen for the first time since 2006's Babel is a justified event. But Biutiful is his first project without collaborator Guillermo Arriaga, who helped steer the director through all three of his features to date.
Fortunately, it proves Iñárritu as a talent in its own right. A tale of terminal illness, spirituality and Barcelona's black market, it's an intricately woven portrait of a man's despair. And it's as artfully executed as it is heartbreaking.