The Sea Inside (2004)
This film saw the powerful Spanish contemporary filmmaker Alejandro Amenabar collaborate with the equally talented Javier Bardem in making one of the finest films based on a true story. The Sea Inside, or Mar Adentro (original title), was a film based on the life of Ramon Sampedro, a fisherman poet who, at a very young age had an accident while diving, which left him a bed-ridden quadriplegic. The film touched upon the controversial topic of euthanasia and received great critical acclaim, especially for Javier Bardem's graceful portrayal of a man who wanted nothing more than to control his own destiny.
No Country For Old Men (2007)
This contemporary-western-action-drama-thriller directed by the Coen brothers (Ethan and Joel) was easily one of the finest films of the decade. With a hauntingly quiet background score that consisted only of ambient sounds, the film explores universal themes like greed, wrath and other biblical sins in a very modern setting. Javier Bardem plays the role of Anton Chigurh, a killing machine void of human emotions who decides the fate of his victims by the flip of a coin. Portraying the character in all its cold-blooded brutality, Bardem ends up taking the entire cake of credit for the movie which also stars Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin and Kelly Macdonald.
Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)
An elegant romantic drama by Woody Allen is one of those rare dramedies featuring the gloomy-eyed, gruff-voiced actor. The film is about two friends Vicky and Cristina (Rebecca Hall and Scarlett Johansson) who visit Barcelona on a trip so that Vicky can work on her degree. They meet the charming artist Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem) who offers them a vacation where they could make love. Vicky refuses but Cristina is eager for a new experience. However, things get ugly when Antonio's passionate, tippy ex-lover Maria Elena (Penelope Cruz) arrives at the scene after a failed suicide attempt.
This film saw the dreams of a lot of movie geeks come true as the director known for films like Amores Perros, 21 Grams and Babel collaborated with Javier Bardem. This Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu film casts Bardem in the role of Uxbal; a man torn between his many roles, struggling to make it work as a father and a lover, at the same time juggling his identities of spirituality, mortality and guilt. Set in the underbelly of modern Barcelona, Uxbal's fate encircles him and crosses lines to show us that life is cyclic and it all begins where it ends. The film is all about Bardem and his secret repertoire from which he procures the emotions for love, loss and many other things.
There are roles that define you and there are roles that are defined by you; and then there are roles that strike the balance between the character and the actor, and create a magnificent work of art. Skyfall was just one such film where the James Bond franchise in its 50-years of glory went on to cast Javier Bardem in the role of the negative character of Silva. Like he does with all his roles, Bardem quite willingly steps into the shoes of his character and brings to life a megalomaniac, who only has revenge on his mind. Although not the best of films, playing the bad guy in a 007 film is a big deal.
Published in DNA After Hrs (Pune) on March 1, 2013