Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Making of featurette; Theatrical
MEXICAN director, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, will already be
known to hardened film buffs for his excellent debut, Amores
Perros, but his latest, 21 Grams, which marks his Hollywood
arrival, should ensure that he is the name on everyones
lips come the end of the year.
Together with a top-notch cast, Inarritu has crafted a breathtaking
story of hope and humanity, resilience and survival, which questions
the notion of fate, and the role of religion, in all of our lives.
He also takes three stories, much as he did in Amores Perros,
and shows how they will eventually collide via a series of fragmented
flashbacks, all of which provide compelling explorations of human
beings at their most desperate.
Sean Penn heads the cast as college professor, Paul Rivers, who
is mortally ill and awaiting a heart transplant. His loyal girlfriend,
Mary (Charlotte Gainsbourg), hopes to become pregnant with his
child through artificial insemination, but their supposedly tight
relationship gradually becomes exposed as being held together
by a thread.
Naomi Watts, meanwhile, portrays Cristina Peck, a good wife and
loving mother who, having recovered from a reckless past, loses
her family in an accident, while Benicio Del Toro is Jack Jordan,
an ex-con who has turned to religion in the hope of finding some
form of personal redemption, who finds his faith put to the test
when he kills the young family in question, following a motoring
Tough, uncompromising and frequently heart-breaking, 21 Grams
provides an unflinching and intimate character study of these
three lives as they reach the heights of love, the depths of revenge,
and the promise of redemption.
Without exception, the central trio are excellent, providing
an explosive showcase of their exceptional talents to deliver
a movie which is as thought-provoking as it is, at times, inspiring,
but which may well leave you emotionally drained.
Inarritu crafts the film in such a way that the morality and
issues raised throughout seldom become manipulative, forcing the
viewer to arrive at their own conclusions, while wrestling with
their own perceptions of each characters flaws and virtues.
Much like Vadim Perelmans House
of Sand and Fog, there are no easy answers, and no easy choices
for anyone concerned, a ploy which allows the film to linger much
longer in the memory than most mainstream fare.
And the story is filmed in such a way that, rather than allowing
things to unfold in a chronological manner, it is rapidly edited
and quite fragmented, forcing viewers to pay the utmost attention,
for fear of losing their way.
In the hands of a lesser director, this may have been a hindrance,
but Inarritus style is such that it compels you to sit up
and take notice.
And while it is difficult to pick out a best performance, despite
the fact that Penn seems to be on the shortlist for most of the
major honours, all three are worthy of any awards that are bestowed
This is, in the final analysis, a rich, vibrant and startling
piece of work, which resonates with a power and honesty rarely
found nowadays. It is a masterpiece, and a personal triumph for