Monday, January 15, 2007

Alles gut endes gut, solamente para los americanos

Half way through Babel, one is stuck by a strong sense of deja vu - hey, isn't this last year's Oscar winning movie? No silly, this is going to be the Oscar winner this year - if the Academy liked Crash, they are gonna love Babel. Or so the makers of the movie seem to have been thinking when they made this highly self conscious, pretentious clunker of a movie.

For those who have seen Crash, the interconnect between the four stories in this movie is fairly obvious (except the Japanese one, which is the best part of the movie). Two brothers in remote Morocco taking pot shots with their new rifle injure an American tourist, whose children get lost on the US-Mexico border with their nanny. I'll leave the Japanese connection to those who watch the movie. The picture starts off pretty strongly and in the first half you are practically glued to the screen. The second half is messy, and nobody seems to have a clue as to where its going. Ultimately, it ends pretty badly for everyone, except for the Americans.

The Japanese tale involving the teenager Chieko is undoubtedly the most enjoyable part of the movie - the contrast the studied silence in the rest of the movie where the characters can talk and listen with the thumping loudness of the deaf-mute Chieko's Japan. Rinko Kikuchi plays the angsty, rebellious Chieko with the right mix of depression, frustration, anger and vulnerability. Pretty impressive for a performance without a word of dialogue. The best scene is the one in the nightclub, we get to hear the pounding beats of the night club and suddenly, the scene switches to Chieko's POV - a multitude of colours accompanied by a muted roar. One of the most visually powerful scenes I've seen in a movie.

Brad Pitt is horribly miscast - its difficult to relate to him as a suffering, middle-aged dad knowing that he has a hot babe for a girlfriend, an adorable new born and a fabulous lifestyle. Cate Blanchett is wasted, so is the amazing (yet again!) Gael Garcia Bernal. His first mainstream Hollywood movie and his character doesn't even get closure - Boo! Adriana Barraza as the loving nanny who is deported to Mexico is the tragic heroine in this movie and she is simply heartbreaking here.

Is Babel Oscar worthy? I don't think so.

PS: Its official - Gael Garcia Bernal is the next best thing. And absolutely crush-worthy!

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