Submitted by Julio M
Oscar Nominee – Best Foreign Language Film ; Best Actor
On top of Uxbal’s (Javier Bardem) health progressively deteriorating due to his cancer, things in his personal life also take a turn for the worse. He refuses to further do chemotherapy in favour of “alternative, stone-based healing” which does nothing for him. His work partnership with the Senegalese immigrants is compromised when many of them, including Ekweme (Cheikh Ndiaye), are arrested in a raid and deported, due to their drug trafficking. In turn, he allows Ekweme’s wife, Ige (Diaryatou Daff), and their child, to stay in his apartment, but this just puts further strain to his already precarious living conditions with his own two children, Ana (Hanaa Bouchaib) and Mateo (Guillermo Estrella). Fearing what he realizes is his impending death, he attempts to reconcile with the children’s mother, Marambra (Maricel Alvarez), but reconsiders when he realizes she is unreliable and unfit to take care of the kids.
Matters come to head when he unwillingly causes the death of the Chinese workers who forged the goods the Senegalese sold, as they are found suffocated from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by unsafe gas heaters Uxbal provided for them to sleep at night, and an unsuccessful attempt to dispose of their bodies is discovered and revealed by the media and the authorities.
Now unable to work due to illness and this incident, Uxbal finds himself wracked with guilt over the lives of the immigrants he feels responsible for destroying. He begs Ige to take care of Ana and Mateo when he is gone and even gives her all his savings for this purpose. She originally decides to use the money to return to Senegal, despite having accepted his request, but later has a change of heart and comes back to the apartment.
As Uxbal nears death, he lies next to Ana and gives her a diamond ring that belonged to his own mother; he makes peace with his two children and passes away. A final image has him reuniting with his father amidst a snowy landscape that clearly represents Heaven.