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Directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
Produced in 2006
Main Language - English/Spanish/Japanese
Countries & Regions - American film
Alejandro González Iñárritu is one of the most ambitious directors of contemporary world cinema – his films tackle big themes, and follow unconventional narratives. His previous work displays a unique and exciting cinematic imagination that runs throughout his latest film, Babel, which won him the Best Director award at Cannes. As with Amores Perros and 21 Grams, Iñárritu juggles multiple connected storylines within the narrative: a tourist (Cate Blanchett) is shot while travelling in Morocco with her husband (Brad Pitt); their Mexican nanny (Adriana Barraza) faces problems when attending the wedding of her son with the couple’s two children; two Moroccan children are given a gun to kill jackals; and a Japanese deaf-mute (Rinko Kikuchi) yearns for intimacy.
Numerous languages are used throughout the film, including English, Arabic, Spanish, Japanese, Berber and Sign Language, and the failure to communicate is a major theme throughout the movie, hence the religious allusion in the title. Iñárritu’s custom of playing with narrative timelines works brilliantly here, making the audience feel as disorientated and unnerved as the protagonists (although we, unlike the characters, have the benefit of subtitles for the various languages). We know the likely fate of the tourist as we jump forward to a telephone conversation with the nanny, yet the scenes of the husband desperately trying to get medical help are no less nerve-racking. Likewise we know that the Japanese deaf-mute must be connected somehow to the shooting, but the link is only revealed at the film’s close.
Surprisingly, the best performances come from the lesser known actors – Barraza is very moving as the loving nanny thrust into a nightmarish scenario, whilst Kikuchi’s expressive performance beautifully conveys the heartbreak of isolation. It is she who earns the privileged last shot of the film, a powerful pan-back that takes the breath away. Both actresses were Oscar nominated, although they were ludicrously beaten by Jennifer Hudson’s histrionics in Dreamgirls.
An intelligent, impressive work directed with ambition and sensitivity, Babel is undoubtedly one of the best films of last year. Other far-reaching dramas that tackle big themes often seem portentous and self-important, yet Babel aims for a trenchant study of humanity’s failure to communicate and hits its target.
Alex Davidson on 16th April 2007
Author of 231 reviews
In the remote sands of the Moroccan desert, an American couple are plunged into a frantic struggle for survival, as their stories become intertwined with two Moroccan boys involved in an accidental crime, a nanny illegally crossing into Mexico with two American children, and a Japanese teen rebel whose father is being hunted by the Tokyo police.
Length: 138 mins
Aspect ratio: 16:9 Anamorphic Wide Screen
Cat No: BSP2014
Format: Blu-ray Colour