|
Movies Books Music Food Tv Shows Technology Politics Video Games Parenting Fashion Green Living more >

Lunch » Tags » Movies » Reviews » Babel » User review

Babel

Drama movie directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu

< read all 10 reviews

The Biblical Story May Be a Fable, But The Movie is All Too Real

  • Dec 27, 2006
  • by
Rating:
+5
Pros: Well written story; well acted; timely.

Cons: None

The Bottom Line: Babel was in short, a stunning movie and it stayed with me long after I had left the theater, but it is a long movie so bring a cushion.

Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie''s plot.

I am a student of the unintended consequence, which means that I also fancy myself a critical thinker. A critical thinker weighs, or at least tries to weigh the (unintended) consequences of almost every action, or at least those that might involve others in any way. Such is the basis behind Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s latest cinematic offering Babel. You might remember Inarritu is the man who brought us the brain twisting teaser 21 Grams in 2003, starting Naomi Watts and Sean Penn. It too was a movie about the interconnectivity of human existence, never more acute in our modern age.

This time around a woman shoots herself in Tokyo, Japan and the events that follow start an international incident in the country of Morocco thousands of miles away. Written (rather aptly) by Inarritu’s partner Guillermo Arriaga and of course directed by Inarritu, Babel is a sprawling 142 minute multi-storied whirlwind of a movie, layered in foibles of human miscommunication, loneliness, sexual desire, isolation and grinding poverty.

Babel is of course named after the Biblical story of the Tower of Babel (Holy Bible, Genesis 11:1-9), in which a vengeful God punishes mankind for its arrogance in attempting to build a tower to the heaven; the famed Tower of Babel. As punishment, God separates mankind into different races divided by different languages in order to make communication difficult.

Flash forward to the 21st century, and Inarritu intimates that we (mankind) still have difficulty communicating with each other despite all of the technology at our disposal. And that to global configuration that is terrorism, coupled with globalization, and a media that sensationalizes every event, only add to the problem. The end result being that we are more isolated and afraid than ever before.

Babel is structured around four very different but interconnected stories, told in three different languages, on sprawling across three different continents. All of the stories have a rifle at their nexus.

The first story opens in the North African in the remote Atlas Mountains in the country of Morocco as a grizzled old man by the name of Hassan (Abdelkader Bara) visits his friend and fellow farmer Abdullah (Mustapha Rachidi) and sells him a high powered Winchester hunting rifle for set amount of money and a goat. Abdulla agrees to buy the gun, despite the fact that said purchase would be illegal, in order to kill a pack of jackals harassing his herd of goats. Abdullah then gives his two sons, Ahmed (Said Tarchani) and Yussef (Boubker Ait El Caid), the gun to use during their daily task of corralling the herd onto the side of the mountains to eat. Boys being boys, the two shoot the gun randomly and during one exchange the younger brother Yussef—who proves the better shooter—s shoot at a tourist bus on the road far below them to see if the bullet will sail two kilometers like Hassan said they would.

The second story centers on a couple—Richard portrayed by Brad Pitt (Fight Club, Spy Game, Mr. & Mrs. Smith) and Susan portrayed by Cate Blanchett (The Gift, Lord of The Rings: The Fellowship of The Ring, The Aviator)—who are in Morocco (we are never clear why) when a bullet enters through the bus window and strikes Susan in the shoulder. The tour bus is a long way from a hospital and so it stops at a nearby village. Richard calls his sister-in-law, who in turns calls the American embassy, and somehow a story gets out to the press that an American tourist has been killed by terrorists. The Moroccan government keen to demonstrate that it has stamped out terrorism is determined to find the perpetrators regardless of the consequences.

The third story takes place in San Diego, CA and revolves around the (illegal alien) live-in nanny and children of Richard and Susan and how their lives are directly impacted by Susan's accidental shooting. The very weekend Susan is shoot, the nanny Amelia (Adriana Barraza) wants to journey back to Mexico to attend her son wedding. Susan’s sister was supposed to fly in and take care of the children, Debbie (Elle Fanning) and Mike (Nathan Gamble), but she is delayed, and Amelia cannot find anyone to take care of the children so she take them to Mexico with her, driven by her nephew Santiago (Gael Garcia Bernal). All goes well until the foursome tried to cross back into the U.S. and a drunken Santiago draws attention to them. The result: the border guard tells Santiago to pull over to a secondary inspection point, but he speeds off instead, eventually dumping his Aunt and the two children in the desert.

The forth and final story takes place in Tokyo, Japan and involves a deaf-mute teenage girl named Chieko portrayed by Rinko Kikuchi (Drug, 69, Taga Tameni), who is still mourning the death of her aforementioned mother, who took her life several months prior. Her father Yasujiro portrayed by Koji Yakusho (Memoirs of a Geisha) tries desperately to communicate with her, but Chieko who is always angry continually pushes him away. This despite her angry at her mother’s passing, her enveloping loneliness, and depression, and despite the curtain of friends she surrounds herself with. And compounding the situation is the fact that Chieko has become very aware of her butting sexuality and longs to share herself with a man, any man it would seem, in an effort to connect and feel something other than pain and anger. One last tidbit, Yasujiro is the man who gave the Hassan the rifle that was used to shoot Susan.

Whew! Nominated for 7 Golden Globe Awards, Babel is an outstanding film and does an excellent job of documenting to connective tissue of our seemingly disparate lives. The acting was outstanding; there was of course stellar performances from the principles, but it is the supporting actors that really caught my attention and who deserve the accolades. And the landscapes: from the barren mountains or Morocco to the searing sand of the U.S. Mexican border, to the neon jungle of Tokyo, Inarritu did a masterful job of conveying the starkness of each location. The visual were stunning and at times overwhelming as the camera whirled colorful but barren landscapes.

In an interview at the Cannes Film Festival director Inarritu said: “I feel that the connection that I want to make is not a physical or coincidental connection, nor a plot connection. I think as human beings, what makes us happy is very different; it depends on cultures or races. What makes us sad and miserable is exactly what we share, and that thing is basically the impossibility of love, the impossibility to be touched by love, the impossibility to touch with love and express it. That is one of the most painful things that every human being has experienced, as well as feeling vulnerable to love. I think those two things are the most tragic things that bring us together. This film and the connections to the characters is about that, all of them on different levels, no matter which culture, no matter which country, religion, age, social class . . . All of these people are at an inability to express themselves, with their husbands, with their wives, with their kids. When you cannot be touched by words, and when you cannot touch people with words, then the body becomes a weapon, an invitation, and that is what is tremendous about the story. I feel that you saw a story about human beings and not about Moroccans, Mexicans, or Americans."

And at the end of Babel I did walk away with that sense; that what I just experienced was all too human and had nothing to do with race, color or gender. It was all about human emotion and human communication and our failures as intelligent being to master either, and the results of that failure. And it was about the interconnectivity of our lives and (possible) consequences that one small seeming innocent action can have on lives separate by thousands of miles. Babel was in short, a stunning movie and it stayed with me long after I had left the theater, but it is a long movie so bring a cushion.

Babel is rated R for violence, some graphic nudity, sexual content, language and some drug use.


Recommended:
Yes

Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Fit for Friday Evening
Suitability For Children: Not suitable for Children of any age

What did you think of this review?

Helpful
0
Thought-Provoking
0
Fun to Read
0
Well-Organized
0
Post a Comment
More Babel reviews
review by . March 06, 2009
With direction similar to Crash, this movie focused on the plight of three different sets of kids. Two young kids are staying with their Mexican housekeeper while their parents are traveling in Morocco. Their mother gets shot which prevents the parents from returning. The housekeeper meanwhile needs to attend her son's wedding across the boarder in Mexico. With nobody else to care for the kids and not wanting to miss the wedding, she takes the kids with her and her "shady" nephew to Mexico for the …
review by . April 16, 2009
In Genesis Chapter 11 it is said that men, unified under one common language, decided to build a tower that would reach to the heavens, proving that they were greater then God. They were to call this tower Babel. God, sensing that united nothing would be impossible for them, confused their languages to prevent the tower from being finished. Years later people have found the ability to learn other languages but the language barriers still causes lots of problems. None the least of which is in "Babel," …
review by . April 28, 2009
DVD
Several stories set in places around the world are related only by a freak accident with a rifle: An American couple (Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchette) are on a tour bus in the Moroccan desert when the wife is shot by a some poor children who are trying out their new rifle. Back home in San Diego, the couple's housekeeper takes their children across the border into Mexico with near-tragic results, while the rifle is traced to a businessman in Japan.     The separate-but-ultimately-related-stories …
review by . November 01, 2008
Although this movie's very long   And jumps around quite madly   You'll find it's really all about   People behaving badly     Moroccan boys play with a gun   Without a passing thought   That shooting at a passing bus   Would wreak the wrath it wrought     A couple is vacationing   But not having much fun   They're fighting over everything   Since losing their young son …
review by . March 25, 2007
It is difficult to make one good film, but director Iñárritu manages to make three good short movies. I expected the stories to be connected in a strenuous manner. Instead, I was treated with an interesting and emotionally satisfying production that succeeds in making a point that the world is a very small place. Brad Pitt is barely recognizable with a beard and several wrinkles. But the imperfection of his features doesn't matter when compared with the realistic passion behind his performance as …
review by . March 12, 2007
With direction similar to Crash, this movie focused on the plight of three different sets of kids. Two young kids are staying with their Mexican housekeeper while their parents are traveling in Morocco. Their mother gets shot which prevents the parents from returning. The housekeeper meanwhile needs to attend her son's wedding across the boarder in Mexico. With nobody else to care for the kids and not wanting to miss the wedding, she takes the kids with her and her "shady" nephew to Mexico for the …
review by . February 24, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Story in general, acting, particularly with regards to the children      Cons: One of the storylines seems tacked on for political reasons      The Bottom Line: This is a difficult and touching story told in many languages. Not for a casual viewer. Still recommended.      Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie''s plot.      Babel is a theme based movie rather than one driven by …
review by . February 19, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
In Genesis Chapter 11 it is said that men, unified under one common language, decided to build a tower that would reach to the heavens, proving that they were greater then God. They were to call this tower Babel. God, sensing that united nothing would be impossible for them, confused their languages to prevent the tower from being finished. Years later people have found the ability to learn other languages but the language barriers still causes lots of problems. None the least of which is in "Babel," …
review by . January 15, 2007
A towering achievement, 'Babel,' provides a great alchemy. Last year's best films often had twisty, interlocking plots that came together from fragmented lives. 'Babel' continues this trend where few films have gone since. Not only that but the beautiful cinematography (courtesy Rodrigo Prieto) and the wonderfully placed soundtrack from Gustavo Santanella (both of 'Brokeback Mountain' fame) are just a few of the nuances in this brilliant movie. Having some of the feel of 'Syriana,' 'Babel' digs …
About the reviewer
Vincent Martin ()
Ranked #194
I am an IT Professional and have worked in the industry for over 20 years. I may be a computer geek, but I also like reading, writing, cooking, music, current events and regretfully, politics.
Consider the Source

Use Trust Points to see how much you can rely on this review.

You
vemartin
Your ratings:
rate more to improve this
About this movie

Wiki


Brilliantly conceived, superbly directed, and beautifully acted,Babelis inarguably one of the best films of 2006. Director Alejandro González Iñárritu and his co-writer, Guillermo Arriaga (the two also collaborated onAmores Perrosand21 Grams) weave together the disparate strands of their story into a finely hewn fabric by focusing on what appear to be several equally incongruent characters: an American (Brad Pitt) touring Morocco with his wife (Cate Blanchett) become the focus of an international incident also involving a hardscrabble Moroccan farmer (Mustapha Rachidi) struggling to keep his two young sons in line and his family together. A San Diego nanny (Adriana Barraza), her employers absent, makes the disastrous decision to take their kids with her to a wedding in Mexico. And a deaf-mute Japanese teen (the extraordinary Rinko Kikuchi) deals with a relationship with her father (Koji Yakusho) and the world in general that's been upended by the death of her mother. It is perhaps not surprising, or particularly original, that a gun is the device that ties these people together. YetBabelisn't merely about violence and its tragic consequences. It's about communication, and especially the lack of it--both intercultural, raising issues like terrorism and immigration, and intracultural, as basic as husbands talking to their wives and parents understanding their children. Iñárritu's command of his medium, sound and visual alike, ...
view wiki
© 2014 Lunch.com, LLC All Rights Reserved
Lunch.com - Relevant reviews by real people.
()
This is you!
Ranked #
Last login
Member since
reviews
comments
ratings
questions
compliments
lists