Monday, February 19, 2007


Babel; Drama, USA/ Japan/ Morocco/ Mexico, 2006, D: Alejandro González Iñárritu, S: Rinko Kikuchi, Said Tarchini, Ait El Caid, Adriana Barazza, Brad Pitt, Cate Blachett, Koji Yakusho, Gael Garcia Bernal

Three stories on three Continents are connected by one event; In Morocco two boys, Yusef and Ahmed, get a gun from their father in order to defend their sheep from jackals. In a game, one of the boys accidentally fires at a bus from a mile away - and hits a passenger, Susan, an American tourist. The boys panic and hide the gun, but the police accuses their father for being a terrorist. In a shoot out, police officers kill the innocent boy, while the guilty one surrenders. Meanwhile, Susan's husband Richard is fighting for her life and searching for a doctor in a nearby village. An American ambulance is sent and is able to save Susan...USA. Richard and Susan's kids are being taken care off by their nanny, Amelia. She didn't get the permission from Richard to go to her son's wedding in Mexico, so she simply takes the kids with her. On her way back, she looses the kids in the desert. Luckily, the police finds them...Japan. Chieko is a deaf mute teenage girl suffering from loneliness. She engages in provocative behaviour, but she can never manage to get a boyfriend. She even tries to seduce a police inspector who visits the house to question her father about his gun, but unsuccessfully.

After "Amores perros" and "21 Grams" the Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu didn't evolve further to offer something new. He simply stayed with his old formula of three stories connected by one event and repeated it again in "Babel". Iñárritu is a talented, strangely poetic and realistic director, but his black and white pessimism and too heavy existentialism don't know any limits, while his overblown ambition resulted in pretentiousness and a headache for the movie goer. Some scenes don't work (the one in which it is implied that a Moroccan boy, only about 10 years old, is masturbating, is pretty controversial), but there are also a lot of them that do work (the one in Japan where a guy wants to flirt with Chieko, but backs off when he finds out she is mute, is truly realistic and sad) and manage to connect with the broader theme of the human misunderstanding. Brad Pitt is surprisingly good, although his role is too small for full potential, but Rinko Kikuchi is the best among the cast, as is her story set in Japan. "Babel" is a good film but it was overrated at the Golden Globes and Oscars - actually, it can be compared to the Tower of Babylon; it is a magnificent idea, but in the end it falls apart due to its own megalomaniac idea of trying to incorporate too many bits and pieces.


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