21 Grams Reviews
Its grotesque tone and dark theme projected in a convoluted way is definitely thought provoking and intriguing enough to invest in it but as much as vocal the feature is about its characters, it somehow fails to connect with the audience to the level as it should. Guillermo Arriaga's script is uproaring and upbeating and when projected through Alejandro G. Inarritu's vision, the execution surpasses its witty script. The performance objective is satisfactory coming from amazing cast like Sean Penn, Naomi Watts and Benecio Del Toro. 21 Grams is not your "happy-go-lucky" feature but under Alejandro's surveillance, he somehow manages to makes a definite point out of this chaotic mess.
[Alejandro G. Iñárritu]
#Content: Script 4 | Acting 5 | Cinematography 5 | Film Editing 5
#Visual: Costume Design 3 | Makeup & Hairstyling 4 | Scenic Design 4 | Lighting 5 | Visual Effects n/a
#Sound: Score & Soundtracks 5 | Sound Editing & Mixing 4
#Overall (1~10): 7
Character depth is muted by constant over-dramatized explosions that steadily pervade this film for nearly 3 hours. In Amores Perros, there was more realism to the various circumstances and the way that the three stories merged together. In 21 Grams, the individual circumstances do not come together as seamlessly as Inarritu's past films. Ridiculous caricature of illness, religious conversion, and family loss. Embarrassingly over-the-top; expected more from Iñárritu. Unrealistic plot line with no variation - just over-blasted volume in the form of shaking, screaming, crying actors in every scene; and I like all three actors (Penn, Watts, and del Toro). But for a three hour tale, the immersion of the three and the extremity in which their characters must play out is just too much high-pitched soprano.
Some movies are like a novel. Some movies are like a poem. Some films have flashbacks and flash-forwards. Some, like "Memento," stretch the boundaries of convention and take wild risks such as moving the drama from the end to the beginning. "21Grams" is a cinematic poetic explosion, shaking all the pieces hard as hell, and then tossing them in the air to fall at random. Directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, he gives the audience the puzzle unraveled, demanding that we piece together the story from interlaced past, present and future events. It is part flashy gimmick, part artistic mastery, but always compelling. The story revolves around people drawn together due to an accident, a death, and a donated heart.
This is not a film for either the faint of heart or lazy of mind. Nor is it for those who become frustrated by film that dares to step outside the linear plot and paint-by-numbers formula. The mishmash of past/present/future is allegorical in the sense that we all carry our past, all hinge our hearts on the future, and all struggle with a "present" as dotty and haunted as this film so wildly illustrates.
In "21 Grams" it is required that the viewer surrender. As in life, there is no control. I must admit that I became a bit antsy and pressed for answers when none were being provided. You are riveted by events and players that intermingle in a haphazard mishmash of time with a rebellious lack of structure. You can either go with the flow-or back out to your car. Since I saw only one person exit the theater, for any reason, in the 125 minutes running time, I conclude that the fully occupied theater was as riveted as I was, even to the point of extreme bladder control.
The performances are stunning. Sean Penn is always good, Benicio Del Toro solidifies his Oscar, and Naomi Watts is the big talent to watch. Her emotional honesty is beyond acting-I believed her to feel the pain she displayed.
The "plot" almost seems inconsequential. The film is about the depth of human feeling in our brief interplay between living and dying. It's about damnation and redemption, revenge and forgiveness, surrender and salvation. It offers no explanations. It merely illustrates the human experience in a trenchant manner that makes us aware that every minute of every day is a precarious drama that we look upon more lightly than we should.
The dramatic cortex is the human heart-lost, gained, tormented, anguished and confused. The metaphorical context is the fleeting nature of each heart's temporal beat and our desperately valiant struggle to flesh out our mortal hearts' desires.