Babel (2006)

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Starring: Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Adriana Barraza, Rinko Kikuchi, Boubker Alt Ed Caid (his first film), Said Tarchani (his first film),Gael Garcia Bernal, Koji Yakusho, Mohamed Akhzam (his first film), Satoshi Nikaido, Elle Fanning, Nathan Gamble

Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

Summary: Tragedy strikes a married couple on vacation in the Moroccan desert, touching off an interlocking story involving four different families

Other Nominations: Director, Supporting Actress (Barraza), Supporting Actress (Kikuchi), Original Screenplay, Original Score*, Film Editing

I didn’t think I would review a movie for this project that in the first 30 minutes featured a Moroccan kid jacking off in the middle of the desert and a deaf Japanese schoolgirl taking off her panties and angrily flashing a bunch of guys at a club, but here we are. More seriously though, Babel is an occasionally great but ultimately disappointing movie with four somewhat concurrent, semi-connected stories on the theme of communication problems across languages along with constant of tragic fate and misery in each. Structurally, the movie makes the smart decision of not cutting between the stories too often, so that everything is easy to follow along with and so that the audience can (potentially) get invested in each segment when they come up. The big problem is that the whole enterprise doesn’t quite add up and none of the plot lines feel strong from start to finish, especially with their endings. Even the Japanese segment, which in my opinion was easily the strongest of the four and featured a fantastic performance from Kikuchi, petered out about ¾ the way through; ironically, the segment involving by far the biggest actors in the film, Pitt and Blanchett, was by far the weakest, although it probably had the most satisfying ending. Babel is a movie that looks good, has a well-structured screenplay and every once in awhile approaches greatness, but is unfortunately never able to put everything together into a fully cohesive package that would have made it something really worth watching.

Rating: C+

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