Monday, February 19, 2007


Babel (Alejandro González Iñárritu, 2006) - 7.5/10

Three different stories, three different settings, and all manage to somehow connect together in the least spectacular way.

Brad Pitt (Richard) and Cate Blanchett (Susan) play a married American couple/tourist in Morocco. Their rocky relationship unfolds off the top -- seeing them scuffle over ice -- and as tragic circumstances happen, we get a deeper look into their relationship. Within the same storyline, two Moroccan boys are handed a rifle with the task of protecting a flock of goats. As these two boys go about experimenting with the rifle, a shot causes serious repercussions.

Tokyo, Japan. Chieko (played by Rinko Kikuchi) is a deaf-mute teen (living with her single father) who feels rejection. Inside her is a passion of love and desire she is unable to experience. Desire and lust slowly build up in desperation to seek that one guy who can love her.

A third story revolves around a nanny named Amelia who takes care of two kids in America. In an attempt to attend her son's wedding in Mexico, she has no choice but to bring along the two children. They find themselves in a dire situation attempting to get back to America.

The way these three stories connect is rather tame (lack of better word) as compared to 2004's Crash, where the stories' interconnectivity had an in-your-face approach, and each one relied on the other. In Babel, each story could've been told without being connected to each other. Connecting for the sake of connecting, it seemed. The two kids happen to be the son and daughter of Pitt and Blanchett's characters, and the rifle, which was given by Chieko's father (who was a hunter) to a Moroccan villager as a gift.

The different settings and backdrops provides a diverse setting that keeps the film alive. The rocky terrains and mountains of Morocco gives a portrayal of how the Moroccan villagers live their lives. The gritty look and feel of these people in what seems to be a harsh environment creates a realistic portrayal.
The glimpse into the different cultures pulls you into each one. In a couple scenes of Amelia's story, the two children experience firsthand life in Mexico. From the twisting off of a chicken's head to the sound of gunfire, they fear and learn to cope with their surroundings.

With the story of Chieko, here, we are transferred into the realm of Tokyo, Japan. We follow the teenage life of Chieko who struggles to fit in, aside from her other deaf-mute friends. In "typical" teenage angst, the conforming to alcohol, drugs, and partying is portrayed. The story has a calm and ambiance feel in some scenes. The park scene with a serene feel -- leading up to the club scene -- is a beautiful thing to watch. In this moment, Chieko is able to free herself from "reality" and experience what it means to be accepted. Then there is the seizure-inducing club scene. The sound shifts from a club induced pulsating vibe to sheer silence, giving us the experience from Chieko's point of view (or lack of hearing, lol).

Where the score and actions dictate the flow of the story -- including the ending -- it provides a longer and stronger impression. Fitting that it ends with the strongest story.

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