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Overall Rating
2.8

Awesome: 16.67%
Worth A Look: 13.16%
Average24.56%
Pretty Bad24.56%
Total Crap: 21.05%

9 reviews, 60 user ratings


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Babel
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by U.J. Lessing

"All Talk"
2 stars

“Babel” is high-melodrama masquerading as high-art, but then that seems to be a popular trend these days. The film takes its main characters, spreads them out all over the world, and subjects them to emotionally and physically tortuous situations. Think last year’s “Crash” on a global scale.

The filmmakers create four interconnected stories that take place in San Diego, Mexico, Morocco and Japan, and the narrative weaves from one story to another. I think director Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu wanted to focus on how human beings struggle when they are outside their own societal comfort zones. Instead, for the most part, we get samplings of people suffering in contrived situations.

The film begins with two children in Morocco who get a hold of their father’s rifle and practice firing it at the cars that drive by the main road near their village. One of their bullets slams into the shoulder of Susan (Cate Blanchett), an American tourist vacationing with her husband Richard (Brad Pitt). The wealthy couple is trying to mend their faltering relationship after the death of their baby, and the story follows the couple as Susan attempts to hold on to life miles away from any conventional western medical attention.

Pitt and Blanchett adequately inject drama into their scenes together, and there is an interesting contrast between the compassion of their ethno-phobic companions versus their kindhearted Moroccan tour guide and his family. However, there’s very little that seems genuine in these moments. One also wonders how Susan can be wounded so seriously while remaining so cognizant.

The second story concerns Richard and Susan’s children. With the pair facing peril in Morocco, their Mexican nanny, Amelia (Adriana Barraza) decides to take their two young kids with her to Mexico for her son’s wedding. The first half of this episode is beautiful as the children quickly become acclimated to the culture and absorbed by the community’s love.

All of this is quickly abandoned though in favor of a histrionic misadventure on the way back to San Diego. In point of fact, filmmakers need to stop underestimating their viewers’ intelligence by having their characters make decisions that no one in the audience would ever make. Amelia’s actions do not match her aptitude established in the first part of the installment.

The third narrative follows the Moroccan children and their family as inspectors who believe the shooting was the work of terrorists, begin their investigation. These kids clearly spend more time in the adult world than as children, but the screenplay is so concerned with keeping their narrative moving, that there is no time for any character development.

The fourth installment isn’t as interrelated as previous sections. Yet it’s the most fascination fragment. A deaf and dumb teenage girl (Rinko Kikuchi) lives in Tokyo with her father, a wealthy widower. She communicates using sign language, but lives in an overwhelming culture full of people who cannot literally and emotionally understand her. One senses that the death of her mother left her expressively isolated from everyone around her, and she begins to resort to promiscuity to numb her depression.

Kikuchi is the only actor in the production who is asked to take serious risks in her characterization, and her performance almost saves “Babel” from collapsing under the weight of its own self-importance.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=15013&reviewer=396
originally posted: 01/14/07 09:59:35
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Toronto Film Festival For more in the 2006 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Chicago Film Festival For more in the 2006 Chicago Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

11/19/11 Chris. Have had a rash of movies I don't want to finish recently, finished this one. 4 stars
7/26/11 daveyt didn't get a pay-off after sitting through it all, just too random and disconnected for me 3 stars
9/01/09 Adam Film was just bleak. Very crafted view fo tragic events and consequences. Poor story links. 3 stars
8/16/09 tony Rubbish. made for highbrow dinner party arty types with nothing better to talk about 1 stars
10/30/08 David Babel calls for listening, if you say you did, and you didn't get the idea, then you didn't 5 stars
9/04/08 Alexandru Totir Very interesting movie and I like how they combined the scenes to make something unique 5 stars
6/10/08 mr.mike Very good , sustained my interest throughout. 4 stars
6/01/08 Leon Unusual and absorbing; well- dramatised C'est la Vie! of life's vagaries 4 stars
5/27/08 Matt Crap. Couldn't even get the bus-shooting scene right. 1 stars
5/25/08 Joh Hansen continuity problem with the bus going L to R and KB shot in L clavicle! 3 stars
4/21/08 Dhanu great 5 stars
4/05/08 stephanie willis enjoyed - especially the Afghan boys - thought they did a fine job - always like Blancett 5 stars
3/10/08 Jayme Isaacs Good Movie 4 stars
3/05/08 ladavies some of it worked, some didn't (Brad Pitt's storyline) 3 stars
9/28/07 Noelle Stephens It was an ok movie. It would have been better without the Japanese story line. Too much! 3 stars
9/25/07 Lenore Disappointing, shallow, but thankfully, good environments. 2 stars
9/01/07 goatfarmer Frustrating movie, beautifully shot, about frustrated people behaving recklessly 3 stars
7/11/07 wil j. Study of fateful global human interconnections; even amongst strangers who will never meet 5 stars
7/11/07 VIVEK KRISHNAN GOOD 3 stars
5/20/07 luke this movie was so stupid i would have rather eaten a cake and thrown it up 1 stars
5/14/07 Jonathan Holmes The best film of 2006, and a pity to those who can't understand Inarrtiu's geinus 5 stars
5/01/07 action movie fan good quartet in one. shooting of wife in morocco the most gripping of the bunch 4 stars
4/23/07 JeromeBosch Incredible acting, gorgeously lensed, a brilliant movie. 5 stars
4/13/07 fools♫gold That old-school drama I won't watch again; "21 Grams" was better. 3 stars
4/06/07 Anthony incredible- moving, challenging, brilliant writing and acting- loved it 5 stars
3/12/07 Jose M. Terrific and Heartfelt film . Dawn Learn how to spell against . 5 stars
3/10/07 Dickman Fragmentation of 4 pretentioius half-stories makes a kid's jigsaw puzzle, not a drama. 3 stars
3/08/07 Butt Third time is not the charm for Inarritu - boring 3 stars
3/03/07 Joe Smaltz Strange movie, strange plot, strange casting no story line 1 stars
2/27/07 Veronica Price There is nothing to explain in this moronic film. Absolutely stupid. 1 stars
2/26/07 Thomas Brown Best movie of 2006! No use trying to explain that to people who just don't get it. 5 stars
2/25/07 Stephen Drinkard Excellent film. I feel sorry for the people who couldn't understand this film. 5 stars
2/25/07 R.W.Welch Asian thread a little weak; otherwise pretty solid. 4 stars
2/15/07 ES A more accurate title would have been- 'Really Stupid Decisions' 2 stars
2/13/07 robert zimmerman probably the best film i've ever seen 5 stars
1/28/07 Cassandra Gleason Vacuous and slow-paced. Trite. Waste of 2.5 hours. 1 stars
1/22/07 Tony Vawser powerful, intense, involving, rewarding 5 stars
1/22/07 Monday Morning Only depression-junkies would like this drawn-out piece of shite. 1 stars
1/21/07 TheReelMcCoy About 30 minutes worth of "high concept" packed into two hours. 1 stars
1/18/07 Mark Iñarritu is a fraud and Gael Garcia must go back to the mexican soap operas. 1 stars
12/27/06 Agent Sands Especially right now in time in terms of both politics & everyday people, Babel's important 5 stars
12/16/06 Elizabeth Amazing! 5 stars
12/16/06 Bob Cetlin Great review of an awful movie. Impossible to enjoy even the beautiful scenery. 1 stars
11/25/06 joe total crup 1 stars
11/25/06 Greg The movie is reflective of the dichotomy and ethnocentric predicaments in the world. 4 stars
11/21/06 marie i really like it, especially the japanesse girl story! 5 stars
11/19/06 jcjs i liked it bunches and my friend didn't...lots didn't like this show...no problem i liked 4 stars
11/18/06 Ramblingdriver A tax write-off for movie studio / paycheck for actors 1 stars
11/17/06 george good idea, but badly executed. Too long + depressing.Shouldn't have cast any famous actors. 1 stars
11/17/06 FilmGoer pretty good....but what was in that final note 4 stars
11/15/06 Valerie The kid who shot the rifle was the best character/actor 2 stars
11/15/06 Jamethon I agree, Iñárritu needs to stop repeating the same formula over and over again. 1 stars
11/14/06 alex annoying and tedious as hell, twice as long as it needs to be 1 stars
11/14/06 John M Depressing, waste of time. I want my 2 hours back. 1 stars
11/14/06 Gayle Did like this movie. Would not recommend it. Brad Pitt was horrible. Hard to follow. 2 stars
11/13/06 mwpmd A total waste! Sorry excuse for political commentary and entertainment. 1 stars
11/13/06 J.Pet Brad Pitt, should consider early retirement!!! 1 stars
11/13/06 Mauricio Excellent trama, 5 stars
11/13/06 John I love this movie, very good. 5 stars
11/06/06 Timber The exquisitely tramatising need to communite: Keep this concept in your mind throughout. 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  27-Oct-2006 (R)
  DVD: 20-Feb-2007

UK
  N/A

Australia
  26-Dec-2006



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