Saturday, March 3, 2007

Babel (2006)

* * * *

Babel is a moving film about the inter-connectedness of the world we live in, but the most important message it conveys may be the importance of recognizing the equality of individual people across the globe. An ensemble performance with a huge cast, Babel is a scene-jumper which weaves multiple story lines together that don't form a whole until the film's last ten minutes. The plot may be difficult to follow for some. The scenes not only jump between characters but also back and forth in time, and it takes some time to understand where the film is at. The acting is great across the board as it shows how people react to incredibly demanding situations. Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett are the big names, and both perform well in their roles, but it is the little known actors who make Babel a success. Adrianna Barraza and Rinko Kikuchi are both phenomenal as a Mexican housekeeper and Japanese school girl, respectively. Both had extremely difficult roles and are nearly flawless in every scene. Kikuchi, whose character is deaf, does not even speak a word and still steals every scene. Her performance is a model of what acting should be and was robbed of the Oscar she was nominated for. One of the story lines involves an Arab family whose names as actors I do not know, but the two young boys and the man who plays their father were tremendous and should be recognized. The score is fantastic, one of the best of 2006, as it creates a distinct atmosphere for each scene, and the visuals that it complements across multiple cultures (a Japanese rave, rocky wasteland of the Middle East, a U.S. desert land) are breathtaking. The acting rarely seems forced as well as the point it is trying to get across, and this may almost be to a fault. The directing is great, but it seems as if Alejandro González Iñárritu was trying to whisper his message rather than shout it or even say it with authority. Regardless, I am very anxious to see what he comes with next. Overall, Babel has great acting, an intricate storyline, and an important message. Those are three things you rarely find in movies these days.

Good For: people who like socially conscious films, people interested in many cultures, fans of little known actors

Bad For: people who can't read subtitles, people upset by full frontal nudity, ethnocentrists

The Gallery
The Economist: * * *
The Surfer: * * * *
The Film Maker: * * * * *

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