21 Grams


Director Alejandro González Iñárritu’s first American film begins with complete chaos; pieces of the puzzle are thrown at us and slowly we put it together, realizing what the three main characters (a man in need of a new heart, a former convict who’s found religion, and a woman with a husband and two kids in the suburbs) mean to each other. Writer Guillermo Ariaga works with the notion that when we die we lose 21 grams, our soul, and those grams might end up useful to other people. That sounds hopeful and the movie also ends on a fairly positive note (in spite of all the misery preceding it) but it’s not a cop-out. Painful, with a raw look, but still rewarding. Terrific cast. 

2003-U.S. 125 min. Color. Produced by Alejandro González Iñárritu, Robert Salerno. Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu. Screenplay: Guillermo Ariaga. Cinematography: Rodrigo Prieto. Music: Gustavo Santaolalla. Cast: Sean Penn (Paul Rivers), Benicio Del Toro (Jack Jordan), Naomi Watts (Cristina Peck), Charlotte Gainsbourg, Melissa Leo, Clea DuVall… Danny Huston, Eddie Marsan.

Trivia: The second part in the director’s ”trilogy of death”, following Amores Perros (2000) and preceding Babel (2006).

Venice: Best Actor (Penn).

Last word: “[The actors and I] had a couple of readings. I worked with Benicio more. I worked with him like four or five months before we started shooting with weekly basic meetings. But with Naomi I had another kind of preparation — we went to therapy with people who had lost kids, and she read books. Sean was more practical, reading with Naomi and discussing some scenes. Every one of them showed me a different way of working.” (Iñárritu, Indiewire)



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