21 Grams (2003)

July 08, 2011 By Mike B
Movie Review

What Worked?

Alejandro González Iñárritu’s scorching film is a puzzle of emotions that sears through your soul and finds light within a prism of hells. Iñárritu’s film is gripping and passionate; something that you wont soon forget. Benicio Del Toro, Naomi Watts and company deliver bruising performances that capture so much more than  characters on paper. 21 Grams is simply amazing.

Iñárritu constructs this film as a puzzle that is in an order of chaos, but so clear as the pieces are unveiled one by one. The three stories of tragedy are brought together to create some kind of hope that each character is in desperate need of. The film is painted in muted, slightly gritty colors that add to the relative feeling of agony, mixed with scenes that are beautiful, like the wave of birds filling the sky at sunset amongst all the sadness in the world. The script is rich, and filled with questions about life, revenge,  and guilt; all are brought forth with the realistic sense of the lack of closure.

Naomi Watts is Cristina Peck, a mother who has recently lost her two daughters and husband, and she is absolutely sincere. Watts projects the emotions of her character with complete, wreckless and always natural conviction.  Cristina is a character that is spiraling down a black hole, and Watts is amazing as she has a fire in her eyes that pushes away any help, but also a fragility of a lonely woman who is also feels alone. The man responsible for the accident is Jack Jordan, an ex-convict that has made a new life for himself as a man of strict religion. Benicio Del Toro as Jack is simply phenomenal. Del Toro is flawlessly convincing as a religion-obsessed man that turns against his religion after the horrible accident. There’s a pain that pours out of Del Toro without him having to say a word. He has the guilt of the world on his shoulders, and he’s crumbling slowly, feeling every inch of pain that guilt can trigger. Del Toro truly becomes the epitome of hopeless, until chance gives him another shot at redemption.

We safely dive into how dark the world can get, getting a taste of the hell of reality. This film’s importance lies in its authenticity in showing what we’re made of or what we can be made of while lingering in the gray areas between life and death. “How much does life weigh?” 21 Grams answers that question without words, but with actions and reactions, moments of silence, and the never-ending battle of tragedy versus redemption.

Potential Drawbacks:

For those looking for a linear piece of filmmaking, this isn’t that film. If you’re not in the mood for a depressing film, with moments of hope, this is also not the film to be watching if you’re looking to escape reality. It’s more of a film that helps you face reality.

Film Recommendations:

Amores Perros
Talk to Her

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