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21 Grams - US reaction



Compiled by: Jack Foley

IT PLAYED to rave reviews at this year's London Film Festival, so it is little wonder that US film critics are going wild over 21 Grams, the new film from Amores Perros director, Alejandro González Iñárritu.

The movie stars Sean Penn, Naomi Watts and Benicio Del Toro and focuses on the lives of three apparent strangers, who lives are brought together by one tragic incident.

Penn stars as a terminally ill mathematics professor, in need of a heart transplant, while Watts portrays a single mother battling her grief and addictions, and Del Toro is an ex-con in search of redemption.

The ensuing movie has been described by Entertainment Weekly as 'a startlingly crafted movie, with several extraordinary performances'. It awarded the film a B+.

The Los Angeles Times, meanwhile, observed that 'Watts, Penn and Del Toro have all been brilliant before, and if we're lucky, they will all be brilliant again. But to watch these three - working alone and in tandem - is to experience the strange, at times frightening alchemy of screen acting'.

While the Hollywood Reporter stated that 'this movie knocks you out with an astonishing blend of hyper-realism, visual complexity and powerful themes'.

Better still was Reel Views, which awarded it four out of four, and stated that it is 'one of the year's most compelling motion pictures'.

And the New York Post, which opined that 'the title refers to the weight - perhaps the soul - the body is said to lose at the precise moment of death. But 21 Grams has no shortage of soul, wit or intelligence'.

 

 

 

Still glowing were the likes of the New York Daily News, which wrote that 'using the structure of Amores Perros, Inarritu takes his complex tale of hope and redemption and breaks it into a mosaic of emotional tiles that add up to more than the whole'.

And the New York Times, which predicted that it 'may well be the crowning work of this year'.

It added that 'you won't come out unaffected, because the depths of intimacy that the Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu plumbs here are so rarely touched by filmmakers that 21 Grams is tantamount to the discovery of a new country'.

USA Today praised it, too, stating that it 'unstintingly explores and exposes excruciating pain, raw grief, ruinous vengeance and life-affirming resilience, creating human portraits that are uncommonly exhilarating in their honesty'.

While the New York Observer wrote that it is 'a sad movie about the irony of inescapable destiny, it left me captivated and trembling'.

Film Journal International, meanwhile, stated that 'Inarritu and his fellow artists have contrived something wondrous, a formally innovative fugue filled with demons and despair that somehow comes down on the side of life'.

And Rolling Stone gleefully predicted that 'you won't see more explosive acting this year'.

The Onion's AV Club said that it is 'a nearly unparalleled actor's showcase, the film boasts performances of impressive quality and quantity'.

While Variety concludes this overview by stating that it 'cements [Iñárritu's] reputation as a boldly talented filmmaker'.

The film opens in the UK next year and is already one of the contenders for film of 2004, along with the equally sublime Lost in Translation.

 

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