Babel (2006) - Single-Disc Edition
|Paramount || R - 143 minutes - $29.99 || February 20, 2007|
|Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2007-02-16|
Theatrical Release Date: November 10, 2006
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Plot (from DVD back cover): A tragic accident in Morocco sets off a chain of events that will link four groups of people who, divided by cultural differences and vast distances, will discover a shared destiny that ultimately connects them.
“If You Want to be Understood...Listen.” I tried, really. But the nothings that were said were just that... nothing.
Director Alejandro González Ińárritu is no doubt a talented director and right there with Alfonso Cuarón, where both directors have a skill in the visual aspects of their films. Although 21 Grams was disappointing, I felt it was still a worthy and interesting project with an excellent cast. On the other hand, it also was tedious, uninteresting and un-compelling. Unfortunately, those are also the same words I would describe Babel as and it is a lot like 21 Grams, except I didn’t see much in the way of acting despite three actors who are all very talented.
Nobody really stands out as each of the four stories gets equal time but even so, I expect more from Brad Pitt, who is strangely an underrated actor, and Cate Blanchett. Blanchett herself has almost nothing to do except lay down, bleeding, crying and pissing into a pan. What a gig. Kidding aside, both of them, along with Gael García Bernal, didn’t make an impression on me and their stories also failed to bring together a film with no meaning or real story.
Before you dig at me about criticizing a movie for lack of story or meaning, Lost in Translation is another movie that, on the surface, had nothing going on except following two characters around Tokyo. In Babel there is an underlying story about, like Lost in Translation, it is miscommunication.
One story follows to Moroccan brothers who receive a rifle as a present and while playing and testing it, one brother shoots at a bus, the bullet striking an American tourist (Blanchett) on vacation with her husband (Pitt). While the brothers deal with what they’ve done, the husband-wife couple are far away from any hospital and are taken to small village in order to treat the wound before she bleeds to death.
Meanwhile, the second story unfolds with a nanny taking care of the vacationing couple’s two kids. Having unable to find someone to watch them, she takes the kids to Mexico so she could attend her son’s wedding. On the way back, her nephew (Bernal), driving her back to the States, gets smart with the border guard and soon enough, they are on the run.
The final storyline, the one that started things, was the weakest link to the events in Morocco and yet probably the most interesting story of the four. The story, about a deaf and mute teenage girl (Kikuchi), is not only the strongest but probably could’ve been a movie on its own expanding on her home life, dealing with her handicap and any repercussions of a tragedy that occurred in her life.
Of the participants, Rinko Kikuchi delivers the best performance and a subtle one at that. Since all of her emotions has to come from her face or hands, rather than voice inflection, Kikuchi’s performance should be recognized. That said, it isn’t anything profound or Oscar worthy, but still the highlight from an otherwise stale film.
Babel is by no means a bad film, just one that has one good story and beautiful scenery, but offers little else when it comes to meaning. When the movie is over, what am I supposed to think? Even though Ińárritu tries to offer drama and tragedy, I felt very little for anything or anybody (except Kikuchi) and even then I’m not sure what the purpose is. In my example, even something like Lost in Translation has a purpose or message about meeting someone that changes your life, even if that someone isn’t a part of it, but still will always be on your mind.
Babel has none of that and we’re left with a story that makes a whole lot of sense but is emotionally bankrupt. I know I’m in the minority, but this is hardly one of the best movie of 2006, which is a shame since it had potential. It comes across more as a movie trying to capitalize on Crash’s Best Picture win rather than standing on its own.
Expect a Collector’s Edition as this release only contains a theatrical trailer. Hopefully the next release won’t go down the route of 21 Grams offering only a short featurette...
.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.
Babel is presented in anamorphic widescreen and looks just as director Alejandro González Ińárritu intended. Even during the Moroccan storylines, the visuals are a bit grainy but no much that it overtakes scenes while the Tokyo story, he utilizes the bright, vibrant colors of the city inside and out.
The DVD features both a Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 tracks. Babel doesn’t have much when it comes to sound effects and since most of it either has dialogue or doesn’t, the sound isn’t a big issue. When the score overpowers a scene, I notice it isn’t as encompassing as I expected, so on that front the sound isn’t what it should be (but maybe that’s due to the low budget).
Babel, on the surface, should’ve been a fine film but one that seems to try too hard to be an Oscar contender, trying to ride the coattails of Crash. The multiple storyline, overall, wasn’t well developed and I didn’t feel anything for any character. It’s not that they aren’t likeable, but I just didn’t think there was anything behind their eyes.