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Overall Rating
3.74

Awesome34.51%
Worth A Look: 23.94%
Average: 26.76%
Pretty Bad: 10.56%
Total Crap: 4.23%

13 reviews, 64 user ratings


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21 Grams
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by Dr Nick

"A great, confusing mix of love and death"
4 stars

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's latest effort sees him taking the big step from Mexico to Hollywood, dealing with some of the most talented actors out there. And does he pull it off? Oh yes! Dark, unsettling and thought provoking it's a complex film that demands total concentration from the audience.

Paul Rivers (Penn) is in hospital. Only a heart transplant can save him from dying. Luckily (well, for him anyway), Christina Peck’s (Watts) husband and two daughters are killed in a hit-and-run accident. The man behind the wheel is Jack Jordan (Del Toro), an ex-con who has found God and gone straight. Christina’s husband's heart is used to save Paul's life. Jack can't live with the guilt, so he gives himself up and goes to prison, where he loses his faith and, upon release, decides to leave his family. Paul's condition improves. He falls in love with Christina and decides to leave his wife. Christina, initially repulsed at the thought of dating a man with her dead husband's heart, soon gives in to Paul's charm and together they plan to avenge her family's death.

Without giving too much away, that's pretty much the story of 21 Grams. It is definitely not an easy film to digest. Not only is the story itself pretty heavy, the complex narrative structure demands the full attention of the audience for the whole two hours. Stare into your popcorn for too long and you might miss an important piece of this intricate puzzle. Constantly jumping between past, present and future in all three story lines, it'll leave you guessing until the end, not just over how it'll end but also over how it all started. It’s an interesting technique, providing the answers to questions we haven’t even seen yet. Of course it’s been done before, but here Inarritu really takes it to the extremes. It does get a bit confusing at times, but as long as you pay attention, you shouldn’t have any greater problems following it.

Inarritu seems equally confident working with the best of what Hollywood has to offer as he was working with unknown Mexican talent in his feature debut, Amores Perros (2000). The performances are great throughout. Sean Penn is perfect as Jack, the dying man. A very selfish character (he dumps his wife, who has stood by him throughout his illness, as soon as he gets out from hospital), you still can’t help liking him after the horrors he’s gone through. Jack’s situation raises many questions. What does a person’s heart really mean? Does it affect the personality of its owner? Does Jack fall in love with Christina because he’s carrying the heart of her dead husband, is it pity, extreme gratefulness or just plain physical attraction?

Benicio Del Toro gives another great performance as Jack Jordan, the born-again Christian ex-con. His extreme devotion to Jesus is frightening but always believable. The film raises the question of faith in times of crisis. And of course Jack is right to question it. What kind of God allows one of his most devoted followers to run over two young children and their father, in a truck completely covered in bible verses? Is it a test of faith, or just an extremely ironic accident?

It's nice to see a film that makes you think and that forces you to pay attention. It gets slightly confusing at times, but if you stick with it until the end, it's a very rewarding experience.

21 Grams is a film that will stay with you for a long time and provide plenty of topics for conversations. And that’s a very rare, but much appreciated, thing these days. I can’t wait to see what Inarritu has in store for us next.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=8348&reviewer=345
originally posted: 03/31/04 04:31:58
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User Comments

2/05/17 Aidan Butler Sean Penn character destroys logic of movie 3 stars
1/02/13 Davie bummer. 2 stars
11/26/10 Sia Shar one of great movies of the 2003 and the decade 5 stars
9/18/08 PAUL SHORTT CRUSHES ITS CHARACTERS UNDER ITS FOOT, THEN STEPS BACK & WANTS YOU TO LOOK AT THE MESS 1 stars
7/20/08 Shaun Wallner This movie was Awesome!! Loved It. 5 stars
12/21/07 Wendell O. Maness I love blood, want to drink it, love this movie 5 stars
12/06/06 andrew worst movie ever. boring and sux 1 stars
11/24/06 Charlene Javier Loved it as well 4 stars
6/25/06 MP Bartley Superb acting, but jumbled narrative is all veneer and no surface. 4 stars
4/12/06 anthonyuk superb and again sean penn shows his class 5 stars
11/22/05 Taylor Fladgate 4 Stars - but be sure to be ready to be depressed. Whoa. 4 stars
9/20/05 Indrid Cold Great use of a fractured narrative to spice up an otherwise ho-hum story. 5 stars
8/19/05 ES Broken time lines inmovie generally mean the director wasn't sure how to film it 3 stars
6/13/05 Agent Sands Plot order is as if PA dropped the script & had 2 shuffle it back together in a hurry. 4 stars
5/07/05 Vince Top notch cast and performances, editing seems random and as a result story is tedious 3 stars
4/09/05 K. Sear Nothing new but it delivers where other attempts fail. 4 stars
12/07/04 Orion Fascinating. More deeper that you think at first glance 5 stars
11/09/04 Matthew Wow..what an awesome movie! Naomi Watts rocks! 5 stars
9/03/04 Impey not too shaby 2 stars
8/28/04 capitalbliss Fantastic, I found the filming a little different but the movie is great!! 5 stars
8/12/04 kc finished the movie feeling...eh... 3 stars
8/01/04 Brad Gripping, great performances. 5 stars
7/17/04 Jim & Deborah incredible movie/fabulous directing and acting / "outside the box" so to speak. 5 stars
5/26/04 michele excellent! Del Toro's acting is hypnotic 5 stars
5/23/04 Monster W. Kung Good acting, but plot is tedious and the absurdly bleak and fractured approach don't help. 3 stars
5/17/04 elizaveta a really great out-of-order film. Sean Penn rocks, as ever. 5 stars
5/13/04  Shaun Rose Excellent movie with agreat cast, I reccomend to anybody who hasn't seen it 4 stars
4/23/04 Alex A good movie about life 5 stars
4/20/04 Phil M. Aficiando Mind jumbling pysche beater; great acting helps a lot, but.... 3 stars
4/07/04 A F Tried to hard to mess with the sequence 3 stars
4/05/04 Charlene Javier Proves that Amores Perros is no fluke! 5 stars
4/04/04 Vince Chan Finally, a non-linear movie that actually makes you THINK! 5 stars
3/31/04 The More You Know Like a challenge? Watch it - but be prepared! Josh G's take on it is helpful. 4 stars
3/28/04 Frank Lynch 21 Grams is a pretentious bore. 2 stars
3/25/04 Shelley Shea Sean Penn can do no wrong. 5 stars
3/24/04 Margie LOVED IT, LOVED IT!!! Naomi should have won the best actress oscar!!(I question the end) 5 stars
3/21/04 othree loved it, sadly, raw reminder of human natures +cast 4 stars
3/17/04 Holly Beeman I almost feel like it would have been more powerful in sequence, but he's got the tech! 4 stars
3/11/04 Matt Good performances but the story was just too slight to merit the style. 3 stars
2/27/04 Reini Urban +story, + cast, -camera 4 stars
2/26/04 Troy Butler Extremely emotional, ... amazing performances all round!!! TOP NOTCH!! 5 stars
1/29/04 Rapunzel Gladstone Poorly told story that would far and away be none too compelling if told well. 2 stars
1/28/04 marzio arigoni@rtsi.ch a punch in your stomach! Great performances, especially Watts and Del Toro, and editing 4 stars
1/27/04 Chloe Brody Not Sean's finest performance, but really powerful. Naomi deserves the Oscar! 4 stars
1/25/04 Smitty The most beautifully acted lousy movie I've ever seen 2 stars
1/23/04 Betty White Heavy, dark drama with grand performances. 4 stars
1/22/04 HAL You must think to understand this film and our thoughts are not linear. Fine film. 5 stars
1/21/04 Chronology The movie was based intense emotions and ideas, but is ruined by mixed chronology! 4 stars
1/20/04 Cheerleader who ran out of TP& has to wipe her ass with her pompoms Falls apart at uh, ending, or rather would if it had an ending. 2 stars
1/19/04 Gretchen Seitz "---" sucks! Since when is "no taste" a burnable in hell offense. 2 stars
1/19/04 the Grinch Typical movie you'd expect Sean Penn to be in...good script, but In The Bedroom it AINT 2 stars
1/17/04 john wonderful, great acting, camera technique, fine editing, beautiful work 5 stars
1/17/04 john bale Brilliant yet difficult gritty drama about Fate, great actors, grungy sets and camerawork 4 stars
1/12/04 KCobain Awful and depressing. Walked out after 45 minutes. 1 stars
1/03/04 Admiral Piett Sean Penn sucks donkey dick. 1 stars
12/31/03 --- Anyone who doesnt like this movie has no taste and should burn in hell 5 stars
12/30/03 ownerofdajoint if you like deep overlapping plots then you'll think this is a great movie;which it is 5 stars
12/20/03 AXE k 1 stars
12/15/03 Slo. Zombie This review just SUCKS !!! 21 grams AND Mystic river are two masterpieces of modern cinema! 5 stars
12/03/03 re A GREAT FILM 5 stars
11/30/03 Todd Stein A great film, interesting study of humans 4 stars
11/30/03 ajay tried to be cool with Memento-editing but it was overdone, confusing and masked a bad story 2 stars
11/23/03 smartmusician GREAT!!! 5 stars
11/22/03 benice save your money, worst movie of the year. 1 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  21-Nov-2003 (R)
  DVD: 03-Oct-2006

UK
  N/A

Australia
  22-Jan-2004




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