21 Grams Reviews
Saw this on 22/2/16
It doesn't have much of a story and its non-linear narrative does no help and mostly feels unnecessary, however, the performances are splendid, especially Naomi Watts', well may be because she has more crying scenes. Benecio Del Toro and Sean Penn are all great here, but this is not among Inarritu's best films.
This is the second movie in Inarritu's disjoint, yet connected lives, trilogy, and this is by far his very best. This might be Inarritu's best movie, the artistic force/vision, intricate screenwriting, hartfelt performances by Watson, Penn, and Del Toro, brilliant editing and ambition that went into this project is absolutely fantastic.
21 Grams is an incredibly, indescribably original modern-masterpiece created by up and coming master-director Alejandro G. Inarritu.
Not to mention that Benecio del Toro is the most amazing.
And it is based on this myth that 21 grams, a 2003 American drama was conceived. Starring Sean Penn and Naomi Watts, the story is told in a hyperlink non-linear format, where the past, present and future of three seemingly unrelated characters, converge and coalesce towards each other as the movie progresses. Helmed by acclaimed Academy Award winning director Alejandro González Iñárritu, 21 Grams interweaves several plot lines, around the consequences of a tragic automobile accident. Penn plays a critically ill mathematician, Watts plays a grief-stricken mother, and Del Toro plays a born-again Christian ex-convict whose faith is sorely tested in the aftermath of the accident.
In the initial couple of minutes I was mesmerized by the quality of film-making I was experiencing, but could not help wondering what it was all about. The non-linear narrative confuses you initially and you even wonder if it was necessary, but once you give it time, the movie will floor you. Based on the universal themes of death, pain and salvation, the movie portrays the journey of Christina Peck, a recovering drug addict and family woman, whose life is torn apart by the death of her husband Michael and two children in a fatal accident, by a Christian reformed ex-convict Jack Jordan. She is followed by Paul Rivers, a terminally ill mathematics professor, who was given a new lease of life after a transplantation of Michael's heart.
Iñárritu, has a fetish for the unorthodox, which is apparent in the cinematography of Birdman. Here too, he attempts a unique style. But, eventually, style doesn't matter. Whta matters is that the film has a heart and turns into a emotional rollercoaster ride for the viewers. Love, loss, grief, misery, guilt and redemption are emotions so humane that you connect with the story and its characters. You want to cry with them, console them and give them a hand. Iñárritu successfully manages to bring out these emotions with great maturity and candor.
The screenplay by Guillermo Arriaga is gripping, the editing is crisp and the cinematography is haunting. The music and backgroung score is also incredible. The gives us a sense of the utter despair of their characters, leaving the viewer emotionally wounded. And need I say about Iñárritu. He is the force that binds the movie together. He is confident and brave in his film-making and is one to take risks, without, of course, undermining the quality of his story or its characters.
The performances are incredible. As the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes put it, the movie is full of "fine performances". Everyone puts in the best they have to offer. Benicio Del Toro is outstanding as the ex-con Jack Jordan. His character is one full of layers and dimensions and brings them alive on screen with great impunity. Sean Penn too did an excellent job. One of the greatest actors of this era, he takes up a character in considerable physical and emotional pain and pulls it off effortlessly.
But the clear star of this movie is Naomi Watts. Playing a grief-stricken widow under drug abuse, she gets into the skin of the character, before pulling of one of her best performances. She is beautiful, but the pain in her eyes is unbearable. A particular scene, where she is informed of the death of her family, is heart wrenching and move you to tears. she shares a unique chemistry with Penn and the two share some beautiful moments of passion. If not for anything else, the movie is a must watch for her incredibly moving performance.
Alejandro González Iñárritu is a filmmaker with panache. And with 21 grams, he tells a tale that "grips us, moves us, and astonishes us". Add to it some incredible performances, the movie is a must watch.
Like Arriaga's and González Iñárritu's previous film, Amores perros (2000), 21 Grams interweaves several plot lines, around the consequences of a tragic automobile accident. Penn plays a critically ill mathematician, Watts plays a grief-stricken mother, and Del Toro plays a born-again Christian ex-convict whose faith is sorely tested in the aftermath of the accident.
As the second part of Trilogy of Death, 21 Grams is presented in a nonlinear arrangement where the lives of the characters are depicted before and after the accident. The three main characters each have "past," "present," and "future" story threads, which are shown as non-linear fragments that punctuate elements of the overall story, all imminently coming toward each other and coalescing as the story progresses.
-The title refers to the early 20th-century research of physician Dr. Duncan MacDougall who attempted to show scientific proof of the existence of the immortal human soul by recording a loss of body weight (representing the departure of the soul) immediately following death. The research by MacDougall attempted to follow the scientific method and showed some variance in results ("three-fourths of an ounce", which has since been popularized as "21 grams" is the reported weight loss from the death of the first subject). MacDougall's results were published in the peer reviewed journal "American Medicine".
-80% of the critics surveyed by Rotten Tomatoes gave the film positive reviews, based on 178 reviews with an average rating of 7.5/10. The critical consensus states that "Alejandro González Iñárritu deftly weaves an uncommonly structured narrative with panache in 21 Grams, a stylish, haunting drama full of fine performances." Roger Ebert, for example, questioned the use of non-linear narrative, but praised the acting and said of the film overall: "It grips us, moves us, astonishes us." Elvis Mitchell also praised the acting and called the film "an extraordinarily satisfying vision" that "may well be the crowning work of this year."