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21 Grams (2003)

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A freak accident brings together a critically ill mathematician, a grieving mother, and a born-again ex-con.


(as Alejandro González Iñárritu)
2,816 ( 225)
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 30 wins & 76 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Carly Nahon ...
Claire Pakis ...
Nick Nichols ...
Loyd Keith Salter ...
Fat Man
Antef A. Harris ...
Basketball Guy
Freddy (as Marc Thomas Musso)


This is the story of three well-meaning but flawed people: Paul Rivers, an ailing mathematician lovelessly married to an English émigré; Christina Peck, an upper-middle-class suburban housewife, happily married homemaker with two young daughters, with hiding a secret past; and Jack Jordan, an ex-convict who has found in his Christian faith the strength to live a law-abiding life and raise a family. They will be brought together by a terrible accident that will change their lives. By the final frame, none of them will be the same as they will have learnt harsh truths about love, faith, courage, desire and guilt, and how chance can change our worlds irretrievably, forever. Written by Miguel Cane (Stepford@yahoo.com)

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


This Fall, fate weighs in. See more »


Crime | Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language, sexuality, some violence and drug use | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

16 January 2004 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

21 gram  »

Filming Locations:



Box Office


$20,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$274,454, 23 November 2003, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$16,248,701, 21 March 2004
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Sean Penn and Denis O'Hare also appear in Milk (2008). See more »


At the end of the movie Sean Penn states that 21 grams is equal to the weight of a stack of five nickels. Nickels actually weigh exactly five grams each so a stack of five would weigh 25 grams, not 21. See more »


[first lines]
Michael: Check, please.
Cathy: Look Daddy, a volcano.
[Cathy blows bubbles into her soft drink]
Michael: It's very pretty. Drink up your volcano. All right. We're going. Mommy's waiting.
Cathy: Daddy, please. Just one more minute.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Paul Murphey is credited twice for video assist operator. See more »


References Amores Perros (2000) See more »


Shake Rattle And Roll
Written by Jesse Stone, aka Charles F. Calhoun (as Charles E. Calhoun)
Vocals by Benicio Del Toro
Recorded by James Lott
(P) 2003 Varèse Sarabande
See more »

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User Reviews

Putting the Pieces Together
4 November 2004 | by See all my reviews

A movie directed in inimitable style, Inarritu's 21 Grams is a provocative, deeply moving filmic work that explores several fundamental questions: What is a life, what is its value, and can we place a value on it? Directed in a series of small, seemingly disconnected fragments that come together as the film progresses, the film is thus shot in a style deeply unfamiliar to American moviegoers. At the beginning, most American viewers will find the choppy, nonlinear timeline distracting and frustrating - a cinematic form of coitus interruptus where once on the verge of revealing an underlying plot concept, the fragment abruptly stops and is picked up at an unrelated point. This style continues throughout, but don't worry. The answers do come after a while.

It is worth noting that the actual storyline, when told linearly, is not as gripping as when told in this style. The linear form would resemble a typical mindless story of the wounded seeking revenge. The way Inarritu constructs the story allows him to give the viewer a sense of where various characters are at the same time without the appearance of repetition. It allows moviegoers to see actual events first, then form associations later. There is a sense of, "Oh, now I get it!" that would be conspicuously absent if 21 Grams were told linearly.

Moving on, the performances of the actors and actresses in the film are incredible. All are believable. The animalistic hatred of Christina Peck (Naomi Watts) for Jack Jordan (Benicio Del Toro), the deeply troubled father who regrets his big mistake and has become a born again Christian, is palpable throughout. Paul Rivers (Sean Penn) is genuine in his efforts to repay, literally, a life debt. The performances breathe further life into the series of events that 21 Grams attempts to chronicle.

By the film's ending, the entire tale of what has transpired is revealed to the viewer. Since key plot elements often appear in several of the disconnected sequences, they come to be points of reference that astute moviegoers can use to sort the rest of the plot. By the end, everything is complete. The title is finally put into context, and the attempt to answer the three previously mentioned fundamental questions is made. Yes, at the beginning, this movie may not seem to make much sense, and it may even be frustrating to watch. Still, resist the temptation to get up and leave the theater. Stick around and watch the whole thing. The pieces do ultimately fall into place. I promise. And besides, there's only one way to find out.

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