Uxbal is in an unhappy marriage, separated from his schizofrenic wife, and trying to take care of his children when his doctor tells him he has prostate cancer and a few months to live. "How long do I have?" "A few months" "Months?"
He is a businessman in the grey economy in Barcelona: buying handbags from Chinese illegal immigrants who run a small factory where they employ some 25 Chinese workers/slaves, and selling the bags to African illegal immigrants who are in a constant cat-and-mouse game with the police and who are trying to sell the handbags.
All groups are trying to survive and make some money: our friend Uxbal needs to buy as cheaply as possible, and sell at a profit, bribe the police to leave the Chinese and Africans alone, and hopefully have some money left to pay his rent and buy food for the children.
Then things go wrong: the Africans are arrested and get beaten up and are expelled from Spain, the Chinese factory workers all die in the badly ventilated basement where they sleep, and Uxbal's illness progresses rapidly which means he can't hide his imminent death from his children.
After seeing this movie I realized how blessed everybody is who is in good health, has a roof above his head and money to buy food. This movie makes you vote socialist.
Biutiful is beautiful.