Directed by: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
Premise: A car accident brings together three people from very different walks of life.
What Works: The acting by the three principle characters is extraordinary. Naomi Watts brings a real sense of loss and tragedy to her role as the widow of the accident victims and the portrayal of her descent into substance abuse is very real. Sean Penn’s performance as a heart transplant candidate has an irony to that never becomes cynical or self-conscious. Benicio del Toro’s role as an ex-con has a great parallelism to Penn’s role; both go through a traumatic experience but the film does not allow for them to be so easily redeemed.
What Doesn’t: The structure of the story is not linear and the order of events gets confusing at times. This disorientation is intentional on the part of the filmmakers, but there are some short scenes that do not make much sense.
DVD extras: None.
Bottom Line: 21 Grams is one of those small films that lures genuine actors out of Hollywood and milks their talents to produce something really extraordinary. This is not an easy film to watch but it is a genuine exploration of grief and redemption.
Episode: #28 (November 21, 2004)