21 Grams - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

21 Grams Reviews

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Super Reviewer
April 3, 2007
Well acted but incredibly downbeat movie is a hard watch.
Super Reviewer
June 9, 2006
I do enjoy films that employ interwoven storylines and movies that feature non-linear narratives. Sometimes, I like films that employ both. However, I don't like all films like that, or think that all films that use such techniques need to be done that way. This is one of those films.

This is a look at the lives of three broken people: a feverishly born again ex-con, a critically ill college professor, and a housewife with a tainted past. Their lives intersect following a bad car accident, and the films looks at their lives before, during, and after the crash, examining the consequences of things, and the interplay that goes on between them.

This is some intereting stuff, and I didn't mind that it was downbeat and depressing as all hell; I just didn't care for the jarring editing or feel that this needed to be told out of chronological order. It really seemed to have no other purpose than to tell a story in a unique way or to be interesting. That doesn't work when this sort of thing is old hat and the way it is done doesn't make things more interesting. It really just makes things seem jumbled and fractured, and not in a good way.

At least the story arcs are rather engaging, and the film has decent characters played by wonderful actors who give some compelling and great performances. My favorite was definitely Del Toro, though Watts gives a bold and courageous performance, while Penn seemed more low key though still commanding and powerful. I could have used a bit more Leo and definitely some more DuVall, but at least we got to see them at all.

The film brings up some interesting concepts and has a lot of nice things to offer, but I think it would have fared far better had they just played it straight. Doing something like this seemingly just for the sake of it takes away all of the powerful that the thing had in the first place, kinda like using Dutch angles without really understanding why they're effective when used properly.

So yeah, this film is decent, and has its moments, but it's a mess and doesn't hold up as being as strong as it should have been, so I'm on the fence, but mostly leaning towards a thumbs up.
Super Reviewer
½ September 7, 2010
I love this style of film. I was almost lost during a few scenes, but at the end some of the loose ends were connected and it really turned this film around for me. What a story! Excellent performances from Penn, Del Toro, and Watts, as well as Charlotte Gainsbourg and Melissa Leo. Del Toro definitely deserved their Oscar nominations. Great direction also from Inarritu; it takes a lot to direct such an intertwined film as this, but he delivers. Excellent film, one of the best of 2003!
Super Reviewer
November 5, 2011
'21 Grams'. Bleak, utterly depressing, and completely mesmerising.

Naomi Watts, Benicio Del Toro and Sean Penn all turned in fantastic performances, with Watts my stand-out, and the nonlinear telling of this tale worked well in creating a sense of dread over and over.
Super Reviewer
August 29, 2011
"21 Grams" is a sort of rehash of "Amorres Perros." Same sort of structure, same thematic through lines- if a bit more intensified and specific. What makes the film absolutely worth watching are the performances from Sean Penn, Naomi Watts and Benicio Del Toro. They make the picture emotionally riveting. This is probably Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's least successful film, but if taken out of context, it's quite excellent.
Super Reviewer
½ October 12, 2007
Depressing, but still engrossing story concerning three individuals desperate to find happiness despite facing bleak situations. While director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu certainly is guilty of watching his characters squirm (as he has done in the past, most famously in "Babel"), you can not help but get caught up in this story, since the situations these characters are in are all extremely unique. There's a scene involving Naomi Watts in a hospital lobby that is completely shattering, one of the best scenes of acting that I can recall. It does drag on for a bit and the ending is not totally satisfying, but it is certainly a movie worth a view just because of how well put-together and acted it is.
Super Reviewer
October 4, 2006
Marvellous performances from the principal players. Very harrowing and a superb follow-up to Amores Perros. Crushingly depressing for most, but as if I care about that.
Super Reviewer
April 29, 2010
This is told in a very similar way to Amores Perros, but I‚??m beginning to think that it is just the style of Alejandro Gonz√°lez I√Ī√°rritu. Telling a very particular event and its outcome from three perspectives gives the viewer a lot to think about. The story is probably complicated to some and downright confusing to others, but if you let your viewing practice switch just a little it is quite easy to understand. The film is non-linear, but it follows a very direct emotional path that makes perfect sense in the larger sense. This is more of a direct character piece, rather than true stories. It is mostly about the three people and their lives. It doesn‚??t delve much into supporting roles or background imagery, which is where it really differs from Amores Perros. It‚??s a completely different atmosphere from what I‚??m used to seeing in film because it doesn‚??t really feel like a film. It feels like snippets of someone‚??s mind and images that serve as a counterpart to it. Those minds are acted out wonderfully by Sean Penn, Naomi Watts and Benicio Del Toro. The way they interact or don‚??t interact is so interesting to watch. You really get the feeling that these characters could live outside the film. Now I do stand by the judgment that this isn‚??t a visual film, but that isn‚??t to say it isn‚??t beautiful. You might not need the images, but they are almost like a series of perfect photos that would show in an art gallery.
Super Reviewer
½ March 3, 2008
I didn't have many expectations of 21 Grams before I watched it, I just knew it had Naomi Watts in it and it was recieved reasonably well critically when it was released. What I ended up seeing. was an interesting and layered movie, that featured some great performances.

21 Grams could be compared to something like Traffic or Crash. The similarities between those three aren't really in their content, but instead stem from the way each weaves a larger story from the intertwining lives of several individuals. This kind of drama isn't really my thing, but occasionally I stumble upon an example that draws me in more than normal. 21 Grams is one of those examples. Its non-linear storytelling makes you actively think about what's going on and constantly adjust the way you look at the characters, and that's a surefire way to keep me interested.

Everything rests on the performances of the admittedly impressive cast, and they deliver exactly what's asked of them. Most impressive is Naomi Watts, who continues to steal nearly every movie that she's in. She's just a great actress. And you can't forget Sean Penn, Benico Del Toro, Charlotte Gainsbourg, and Melissa Leo. You'd expect quality acting from a cast list like that, and that's what they provide. No complaints from me.

As I said before, I'm not a huge fan of this genre. But I ended up liking 21 Grams more than I expected to. It's gritty and depressing, so don't bother with it if you like tidy endings or have a low tolerance for watching others be painfully miserable. Themes of faith, revenge, grief, addiction, and despair are explored extensively, but by the end of the movie there's a glimmer of hope awaiting the viewer and the characters. Just be prepared to follow them a long way down, before they find that silver lining.
Super Reviewer
½ February 2, 2007
The performances from the cast are truly superb, these are performances that truly shine with brilliance. Sean Penn and Benicio Del Toro give powerhouse performances. Del Toro is magnificent, he truly embodies this character. Penn is outstanding. Naomi Watts is astonishing, she truly gives an absorbing and stellar performance. Sharply crafted and superbly performed. A remarkably moving and totally riveting drama. An original piece of great film making. A magnificent movie of great emotional depth and character value. It's mesmerizing, captivating and unforgettable. Powerful and extraordinary. Unsettling and breathtaking. It's a pure shot to the heart. A stunning and electrifying suspense thriller. As the puzzle brilliantly unravels it will keep you guessing right till the end. Director, Alejandro GonzŠlez IŮŠrritu crafts an incredible film of ferocious power.
Super Reviewer
December 15, 2008
"The earth turned to bring us closer. It turned on itself and in us, until it finally brought us together in this dream."

A freak accident brings together a critically ill mathematician (Penn), a grieving mother (Watts) and a born-again ex-con (Del Toro).

Absorbing, non-linear drama about three disparate people whose lives are interlinked due to a chain of events that lead to a powerful forgone conclusion that will affect each one forever. Penn, Watts and Del Toro give career high and Oscar caliber performances inhabiting their roles with surprising force, dignity, heartache and ultimately humane. Filmmaker Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and collaborative screenwriting partner Guillermo Arriaga skillfully skewers the atypical look at human suffering by deliberately distorting the reality via carefully edited sequences of non-chronological plottings that force one to pay attention as a real metaphor for life in general. Truly an unforgettable visceral and emotionally harrowing experience that is a definite must see. Moving and painstakingly on target in depicting humanity at its best and worst.
Super Reviewer
½ July 24, 2007
Not a particularly happy film. Perhaps not even all that rewarding. Clever, insightful, original and emotional but ultimately a thinking, bleeding soulless machine. Great performances all around.
Super Reviewer
August 21, 2008
Very thrilling and touching. Naomi Watts screams very well. Torn about the choppy narrative; I found it effective but there is really no plot-based purpose for it, unlike in Memento.
Super Reviewer
½ February 15, 2008
My least favorite of the trilogy, but an important piece of cinema non-the-less. You can't help but see the genius of this director in every film that he makes.
Super Reviewer
½ February 24, 2008
A story told in little snippets. Certainly one of my interconnected list.
Super Reviewer
February 1, 2008
One of the most astonishing movies I have ever seen. Just confusing enough to make it brilliant but it was fairly easy to figure out most of what was going to happen by about 1/2, just keeping the climax in the apartment secret. Acting was stunning from all the cast especially Penn, Del Toro and Gainsbourg. Deeply thought-provoking. All the R-Rated material was perfectly done, without a shadow of overkill or gratuitous nudity, violence etc. Brilliantly edited, directed and written. What more can I say. One of the closest things to the perfect film I have ever seen.
Super Reviewer
December 14, 2007
An extraordinary drama about three people whose lives become inextricably linked by a single tragedy: a woman (Naomi Watts) whose children and husband are killed in hit-and-run accident, the born-again Christian ex-con (Benicio Del Toro) who mows them down, and a dying college professor (Sean Penn) whose life is saved by the transplanted heart of the unfortunate widow's donor husband. The initially confusing, fractured narrative juxtaposes scenes both pre- and post-tragedy to create a heartbreaking, emotionally-draining kaleidoscope of a movie, which ends with a beautifully uplifting glimmer of redemption. Don't be put off by the difficult texture; this is essential viewing, a wonderful film. Watts, Penn and Del Toro are magnificent; each flawed, each haunted, each with a spark of decency.
Super Reviewer
April 24, 2007
Big names firing on all cylinders in grueling study of mortality and grief with a tricksy 3 part chronology which needs patience and doesn't actually add much
to proceedings.
Super Reviewer
November 11, 2007
Ooh wee..this movie was way depressing...but, I will definantly watch it again.
Super Reviewer
July 6, 2007
A depressing gem.
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