21 Grams


21 Grams

Critics Consensus

Alejandro González Iñárritu deftly weaves an uncommonly structured narrative with panache in 21 Grams, a stylish, haunting drama full of fine performances.



Total Count: 183


Audience Score

User Ratings: 210,467
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Movie Info

College professor Paul Rivers and his wife Mary find their union precariously balanced between life and death. He is mortally ill and awaiting a heart transplant, while she hopes to become pregnant with his child through artificial insemination. Cristina Peck, having matured since her reckless past, is a beloved older sister to Claudia, a good wife to Michael and loving mother to two little girls. Her family radiates hope and joy. Much farther down the socioeconomic scale, ex-con Jack Jordan and his wife Marianne struggle to provide for their two children while Jack reaffirms his commitment to religion. A tragic accident that claims several lives places these couples in each other's orbit. In the aftermath, Paul confronts his own mortality, Cristina takes action to come to terms with her present and perhaps her future, and Jack's faith is put to the test. If spiritual equilibrium is to be regained by any one of them, it could come at great cost to the others. Yet the will to live, and the instinct to reach out to another person for support, remains ever present among them all.


Sean Penn
as Paul Rivers
Naomi Watts
as Cristina Peck
Benicio Del Toro
as Jack Jordan
Melissa Leo
as Marianne Jordan
Clea DuVall
as Claudia Williams
Danny Huston
as Michael
John Rubinstein
as Gynecologist
Eddie Marsan
as Reverend John
Antef A. Harris
as Basketball Guy
Marc Musso
as Freddy
Tony Guyton
as Guard No. 2
Wayne E. Beech Jr.
as Inmate No. 1
David Chattam Jr.
as Caddie No. 1
John Boyd West
as Caddie No. 2
Jeff Schmidt
as Caddie No. 3
Denis O'Hare
as Dr. Rothberg
Sharon Bishop
as Receptionist
Jerry Chipman
as Cristina's Father
Tom Irwin
as Dr. Jones
Roberto Medina
as Dr. Molina
Arita Trahan
as Dr. Badnews
Randall Hartzog
as Friend No. 1
Dorothy Armstrong-Miles
as Female Friend No. 1
Barclay Roberts
as Male Friend No. 1
Michael Finnell
as Fat Prisoner
Charlie B. Brown
as Night Guard
Arron Shiver
as Young Doctor
Lew Temple
as County Sheriff
Tricia Branch
as Skinny Woman
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Critic Reviews for 21 Grams

All Critics (183) | Top Critics (40) | Fresh (147) | Rotten (36)

Audience Reviews for 21 Grams

  • Sep 30, 2014
    This is the first Alejandro González Iñárritu film I have seen. And it certainly wont be the last. He meticulously weaves several characters and plots together in this crime thriller. There aren't many people who are able to direct a film like this. The story isn't completely fresh, but the way it's put together and the execution is brilliant. Iñárritu put together a magnificent cast led by Naomi Watts, Sean Penn, and Benicio Del Toro. It was nominated for two academy awards and very well could have been nominated for 5 or 6. Watts gives another heart breaking performance and Del Toro is once again fantastic. It's the scenes in this film without any dialogue that stick with me the most. The emotion or lack of emotion on the faces of the actors is unparalleled. With Watts in particular she is given several moments to show her true acting chops and give us one of the best performances of the decade, in my opinion. The plot is a bit confusing at first but Iñárritu sucks you in with each scene. There really aren't any long scenes which is one of the reasons it's impossible to step away from the film. It's a real crime thriller, but it also gives us a look at people dealing with true despair and how hard it is to instill hope again. Watts is involved in a tragedy, and subsequently Penn has begrudgingly benefited by this tragedy, all caused by Del Toro. But the great part about this film is that each character you grow to care about even at their worst moments. Iñárritu gives us a good and bad side to each of the main characters. Iñárritu truly breaks ground with this film but in the end it's almost too sad to ever watch again. His intentions are not to depress the viewer but to give us a different perspective. 21 Grams is a masterpiece of a film, but it's hardly re-watchable. +Watts is gut-wrenchingly good +Del Toro's torn character +Refreshing take on the plot twisted crime thriller +Iñárritu's perfect execution +Plots weave together nicely... -...But it does take awhile -Impossible to watch again 9.2/10
    Thomas D Super Reviewer
  • Jul 28, 2012
    If this film was a car it would be one of those efficient German-branded ones of slickness, style, solidity and reliability. It's direction is solid, nothing risky in the camera work or cinematography, it lets it performers be in charge. And the performers are fantastic, Benicio Del Toro was superb as the remorseful ex-con. Naomi Watts and Sean Penn are great too as you'd expect with the such sharply carved characters. The script is exactly that, sharply carved, there is no bumps or awkward moments that slows or disconnects you. However, where I found the film to be worn down is with the decision for the utterly pointless non-linear narrative throughout the film. It works in some places and is too jarring in others, it completely contrasts the solid, restrained nature of every other aspect of the film. Another problem this narrative style had in a film like this was because jars narrative so much, you can't work up each characters individual personalities, histories or just deeper dimensions...the performances do there best to carve a depth. Still, the film is engaging and its themes do linger in your head for a while.
    Hassan V Super Reviewer
  • May 02, 2012
    Normally, I hate non-linear movies, but this one wasn't as difficult to follow as others such as Tinker, Tailor Soldier, Spy. The format actually kept my mind going as I was trying to put the pieces in the right order. Luckily, the movie slowly unfolds the events and eventually they make total sense. In other non-linear films, events are just thrown at you with no explanation. 21 Grams' script is a well constructed puzzle for movie-goers who don't mind a little thinking. And the performances were wowing, especially from Benicio Del Toro and Naomi Watts. Sean Penn was great, but not as great as them. I liked the ending as well, it was pretty thought-provoking. Overall, I found 21 Grams to be a well-made and well- constructed drama with excellent performances.
    Kevin M Super Reviewer
  • Nov 05, 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.
    c0up   Super Reviewer

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