21 Grams - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

21 Grams Reviews

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½ January 17, 2016
the least favorite of the innaritu's films thus far - I just dont see the coupling of Watts and Rivers and by this point taking a retrospective look of all of his films, you can see his trademarks -- beautiful landscape/cinematography of nature, close-up shots on his main characters esp when they are writhing in pain and spreading those painful moments ever so slowly until you become so mentally exhausted just watching. Not that there's anything wrong with it, but you really ought to be prepared to watch his films because its not easy and it deals with those universal human elements of love, loss, redemption in such delicate ways. Still, I question his choice of Penn & Watts for the roles. Melissa Leo, as usual, gets ignored and yet delivers such a fine performance, as does Bernicio Del Toro.
½ January 7, 2016
One of the best films of the 2000's with terrific direction, intricate editing, and brilliant performances. The film beautifully showcases how with everything that is lost so much more is gained.
January 4, 2016
A deep human drama, structured like a puzzle.
December 14, 2015
Inarritu has became something of a film making guru in recent years, with the Revenant and Birdman sweeping critics into a frenzy, however delving back into the extremely talented directors back catalogue, we find a plethora of work that is wonderfully art house and pretty essential viewing. 21 Grams is on paper and for most of its run time an astounding achievement in cinema, however its inability to round off a gripping story, with a second act bathing in self absorbtion, 21 Grams leaves you feeling, slightly let down with its final moments. The film follows 3 different strangers, who's lives all intermingle around a horrid accident. 21 Grams decides to take the non linear approach, dipping in and out of these time lines, at whatever moment it deems fit and surprisingly it works perfectly, each scene feels completely isolated yet essential for the telling of the story. It never feels confusing or intrusive, jumping about different time periods in character lives, with no sense of order or time scale and if anything its a testament to Innaritu for managing to pull this kind of trick off. A large part of this is completely down to his cast, Naomi Watts, Sean Penn and Benecio Del Toro are all brutally effective, each of them having such a wonderful spark of energy and emotional weight required to drive home such a complex character piece. However 21 Grams falters when it comes to wrapping up its story, what starts off as a wonderfully simple and heartfelt tale, soon derails itself completely into preposterous territory and it feels the need to wallow in this moment for as long as humanly possible. The story works best when it is keeping it raw, simple and full of emotion, it doesnt work so well, when it continually repeats itself over and over again, with moments that add nothing new to the piece, characters will repeat actions and motivations continually almost for the sake of making it abundantly clear of the movies messages, just in case you were too lost too follow, the problem is that, there isnt much on offer here apart from a really contained story, one that really could have done with 20 minutes shaved off. All in all 21 Grams is marvelously crafted, brilliantly acted and gripping when it centres solely on character, it wades into murky waters however with a weak final act and a sense of impending boredom.
½ November 30, 2015
spectacular performances, good proposals from the Director, moving stories. quite simply good
October 29, 2015
I see 21 Grams a slightly lighter version of Amores Perros. And I really love all the fantastic bits in 21 Grams, such as superb acting from all actors, the script, the editing, etc. 21 Grams has this theme that is depressing and heavy but it also tells you something about life, the agony of it. I really like it and before seeing this movie, I have never appreciated Sean Penn. 21 Grams is the one that changes my opinion about Penn.

Not to mention that Benecio del Toro is the most amazing.
October 10, 2015
Jesus. This is a depressing movie. Why does Sean Penn always have to be in depressing movies?
September 19, 2015
21 Grams. The weight of a stack of nickels. The weight of a bar of chocolate. The weight of a hummingbird. Or perhaps, the weight of our soul. Yes, you heard it right. In 1907, Dr Duncan MacDougall published a paper in the Journal Of The American Society Of Physical Research, which claims that a human body loses exactly 21 grams at the precise moment of its death, deducing that human beings have a soul. The paper has since been discredited, but the myth lived on.

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.
½ September 12, 2015
-21 Grams is a 2003 American drama film directed by Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu from a screenplay written by Guillermo Arriaga. It stars Sean Penn, Naomi Watts, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Danny Huston and Benicio Del Toro.
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".

--Critical response:
-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."
August 18, 2015
A hard movie to watch, Penn was excellent
½ August 3, 2015
The performances and the story are both very good in this well made drama.
July 31, 2015
It may seem slightly odd, bizarre and confusing in its non-linear structure, but as the story progresses, you can begin to piece things together quite nicely. It is superbly directed, and acted tremendously by the three leads.
June 26, 2015
Great emotional drama with three phenomenal performances from Del toro, Pean and Watts.
½ June 20, 2015
One of the worst films I have had the misfortune of watching.
June 7, 2015
As good as a movie can get. A very serious drama.
April 30, 2015
½ April 13, 2015
"21 Grams" is about sad people doing sad things, wishing they could be a different sad person for just a minute so that they can escape the pain they so constantly feel. Their lives never pick up -- they were never that great to begin with -- and so the film acts as a mangled study of truly messed up people, sometimes compelling and sometimes so downbeat you may as well give up and moan into a judgmental pillow. It is not a film to lift your spirits; see it for the emotions it brings, the jaw-dropping performances it contains. When reflecting on our pampered lives, the fact that people like the characters in "21 Grams" may exist reminds us how lucky some of us are, even if our ease is short-lived or tinged with a little bit of depression. We don't look down upon these people; we emphasize with them.
Told in a non-linear fashion, "21 Grams" focuses on three characters with the fixation of a subtle Altman film. They are Paul (Sean Penn), Cristina (Naomi Watts), and Jack (Benicio Del Toro). Paul is unhappily married to Mary (Charlotte Gainsbourg), who longs for a baby but is rendered hopeless due to Paul's dangerous heart condition. Cristina, once a happily wed woman with two lovely young daughters, has lost her husband and kids in a bloody hit-and-run, turning back to past drug addictions to make herself feel something besides nothing. Jack is an ex-convict who is trying to curb his criminal and alcoholic ways through faith, but is failing miserably. These people are all connected in some way or another, but to reveal the source of their crossing paths would strip the film of the pleasures you won't have.
Despite being one of the most depressing movies I have ever seen, "21 Grams" is still one of the best acted, bringing together a magnificently emotive ensemble and giving them what are perhaps the most rewarding (at least to watch) roles of their careers. Penn is a man torn between two equally devastating lives: in one, he is a sick man with a desperate wife clinging to his side; in the other, he is the co-dependent to a mentally unstable drug addict. Watts, in a performance so harrowing it would be a wonder if she didn't suffer while piecing together her characterization, is gut-wrenching as a woman so broken that we can only ask ourselves why she isn't shattered into a million pieces below our feet. And Del Toro is an embodiment of human suffering as a man who wants to atone for his sins but falls immediately after he stands up once again.
Everything about "21 Grams" is phenomenal, but despite its triumphs, I still have reservations about Gonzalez-Inarritu's decision to edit the film in inconsequential order. Some movies have done it well ("Memento", without a doubt), but in "21 Grams"' case, it's a loud concern that undermines the connected stories. Because we don't get to see characters develop in the usual sense, it's harder to grasp them as people, grip their personal stories as if they are our own.
If "21 Grams" isn't perfect and isn't tempting to embrace, that's beside the point. This is a frustrating but visceral film that overwhelms us with its sorrow, its despair. It doesn't feel good, sure, but one rarely gets the opportunity to experience something this exhilarating.
March 29, 2015
The acting is absolutely great (I had to hold my breath several times just because of the fine performances) and while the story is extremely depressing, you can't help but want to know what will happen next.
March 21, 2015
Superbly acted by the entire lead rolls. The way the story unfolded can not miss a second where you will be in a labyrinth. A true classic. Here as well we should tell the critics that the directer sure knows how to tell a story better than any one in the world !
March 17, 2015
powerful performances r the fuel that makes this 1 go.
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