A conservative judge is appointed by the President to spearhead America's escalating war against drugs, only to discover that his teenage daughter is a crack addict. Two DEA agents protect an informant. A jailed drug baron's wife attempts to carry on the family business.
Benicio Del Toro,
Nicholas Van Orton is a very wealthy San Francisco banker, but he is an absolute loner, even spending his birthday alone. In the year of his 48th birthday (the age his father committed ... See full summary »
Deborah Kara Unger,
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)
When Paul Rivers walks away after telling Jack Jordan to leave, the cameraman's shadow can be seen on the ground and bushes in front of him See more »
Look Daddy, a volcano.
[Cathy blows bubbles into her soft drink]
It's very pretty. Drink up your volcano. All right. We're going. Mommy's waiting.
Daddy, please. Just one more minute.
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Absorbing and powerful direction & acting; the story structure was less than great
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu made a well-deserved leap into the renown film-making pool with Amores Perros, and his follow up 21 Grams shows him with plenty of talent to spare. He also gets three (or more, depends on how effective one thinks the supporting performance were) forceful, compelling performances out of Sean Penn, Benicio Del-Torro, and Naomi Watts. They're involved in three interlocking stories- Penn as a mathematician with a rottening health and a near-rottening relationship; Del-Torro's found Jesus Christ after being in and out of jail for part of his life; Watts is a house-wife who may have some deep troubles within her mind. Each of the three leads doesn't go for cheap drama, and each one plunges the depths of their own abilities to find truths that might not be possible with lesser material or a lesser director. I won't say much more about the stories, however I do have something to say about the structure of the film. The script brings some mesmerizing scenes, ones with great tragedy that bring out a viewer's compassion.
Never-the-less, there was something about the structure that I didn't think was all that great. In films like Once Upon a Time in America, Reservoir Dogs, and even Memento, the scrambled story structure had a purpose, adding appropriate twists and turns for the audience. 21 Grams (like Amores Perros in a sense) has that non-linear basis to it too, and sometimes it works for the audience to react. But I think there would be a lot more power to how these characters' fates and tragedies unfold if it was told linearly from start to finish. In many moments in the film I found myself knowing a little too much before a particular scene unfolded, or I found myself guessing about something that I didn't need to (one of the points of non-linear storytelling is answers first, questions later). It wasn't an aspect that made the film bad, yet the stock that writer Guillermo Arriaga and director Inarritu put into this structure over interlocking the stories in order, or perhaps telling each story separately, is the film's only drawback.
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