March 02, 2007

MOVIE REVIEW: Babel

This movie makes a Shakespearean tragedy look like Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. The basic plot depicts the misfortunes of four disparate groups of people: an American husband and wife struggling to survive in Morocco after the woman has been hit by a stray bullet, a nanny that illegally enters Mexico with two small children in order to see her son’s wedding, a rebellious Japanese girl trying to find her identity as police search for her father, and two young boys in a small African village that must suffer the consequences of a tragic accident. Although they are separated by oceans and continents, the stories of these people are all intertwined.

Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, the only recognizable actors in the film, play the American couple. Brad Pitt is in his mid-40’s now, and he looks every bit of fifty in this film. I’m not sure if his natural age is showing, the makeup was authentic looking, or a combination of the two, but I believe his appearance made his role more believable. I don’t necessarily dislike Brad Pitt, but you have to question a guy that is willing to stick his manhood in a space that was once occupied by Billy Bob Thornton. Cate Blanchett is believable in any role.

The shooting of the American woman is the link between the stories and actually the cause for the other tragedies. I’m not sure what the filmmaker’s intentions were, but I found myself being angry and believing that with the exception of the American couple and the small children being transported into Mexico, all of the suffering by the characters in this movie was caused by their own stupidity, and they deserved every horrible thing that happened to them. I doubt that some liberal Hollywood producer was trying to evoke those emotions from the audience, but if that was his intent, then the guy is a genius.

Although I think this was a very well written and intriguing movie, there is not a single light-hearted or upbeat frame in the entire 2 hour and 30 minute runtime. Still, I never found myself bored or wanting to turn it off. The events and characters are interesting enough to make watching the film worthwhile.

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