Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu.
Written by Guillermo Arriaga.
Starring Sean Penn, Naomi Watts and Benicio Del Toro.
Release Year: 2003
Review Date: 12/03
You knew it when you saw the trailer: “21
Grams” has some of, if not the best, acting of the year.
The acting, along with the strange
sequential order of its unfolding plot, makes “21 Grams” an easy
entry into the top five movies I have seen this year. The story
concerns a dying man (Sean Penn), a mother (Naomi Watts), and an
ex-con (Benicio Del Toro) whose lives intersect following a tragedy
in the life of the mother. Because the plot is spooled out over the
course of many months, you learn some things about the characters
very early on, and then we backtrack to learn why certain decisions
forced the lead threesome to get involved with each other.
Much like “Leaving Las Vegas” or
couple of years ago, “21 Grams” is 100% performance-driven, and the
three juggernauts heading the cast are up to the challenge. I was
extremely angry when Watts did not get nominated for her part in
“Mulholland Drive” in 2001; the audition scene in that film was
easily the best scene in any film that year. Mark my words—if she
doesn’t get a nod for her part in “21 Grams”, I will skip the Oscars
next spring...much like I did in 2002 when
“Memento” didn’t get
nominated for Best Picture. (“Moulin Rouge”...fucking “Moulin
Rouge”!!) Watts’ character just has such a ride in “21 Grams”;
rarely do I get caught up in the emotions of a single character like
I did here. The mother has three or four scenes where she
absolutely loses it, and Watts had me sitting there in stunned
silence. And, it doesn’t hurt that, in my friend Terry “GTA Is My
Daddy” McDonnell’s words, “Naomi Watts is the hottest thing on
wheels right now!”
Penn and Del Toro are almost as good as
Watts. Of course, Penn is always good, and Del Toro makes ordinary
films like “The Hunted” look better. Everyone in this movie gets
intense, but balance these things off with quieter moments that
really got me inside the head of their respective characters. I
don’t want to give anything away here, but if you see the film,
you’ll get it.
Director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (“Amores
Perros”) does great work here, and the grainy, washed-out look of
“21 Grams” is just as grim as the storyline. The supporting cast
and the score are both excellent. It’s a movie that resonates with
you later. Damn, “21 Grams” is ALL good.
Rating: Opening Weekend
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Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard