21 Grams

A car accident alters forever the lives of several characters. The horrific effect is quite brilliantly portrayed by the young Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu in this creepy film about death and its inevitable contribution to life. The film is redeeming in a strange way however one cannot but find it extremely hard to watch. The overwhelming sense of loss and general coldness and pain are used to good effect to portray a feeling of utter despair. Yet there is hope, so seems the film to say.

Sean Penn as a terminally ill patient who miraculously survives because of someone else’s generosity plays the role brilliantly of a man confused beyond his senses and grappling with his life that he finds so strange and difficult to live after he had given up on it.

Naomi Watts plays a tortured, troubled widow whose husband and daughters died in a horrific car accident. She too is grappling with a life that she cannot bear to live. She wears her sense of loss like an oversized overcoat and her rejection of life is portrayed brilliantly when she says ‘what for?’ when asked out on a dinner by Sean Penn.

Benicio Del-Toro’s character holds the movie together in his crazy confused personality. A man who starts walking on the wrong path and can never really figure out how he can make amends. Whatever he does, his actions seem to go wrong. The redemption he seeks only makes it worse for him. Another excellent performance from this quirky Mexican actor.

Mr. Iñárritu’s first major American film is powerful and moving. Unfortunately he also falls for what seems to be almost a prerequisite for off-beat movies these days. The film goes along asynchronously and scenes are played out-of-order leaving the poor viewer baffling for sense. The idea seems to be to show out in the future the inevitable effect of the past but it doesn’t quire work too well.

All-in-all, a fine movie, by a bold young director, certainly worth watching.