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21 Grams (2003)

Cast: Sean Penn, Sean Penn, Benicio Del Toro, more...
Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu, Alejandro González Iñárritu
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Studio: Universal Studios
Genre: Drama, Quest, Revenge
Running Time: 125 min.
Languages: English, French
Subtitles: Spanish, French
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Mexican filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu makes his first English-language feature with the downbeat drama 21 Grams. Set in an unnamed U.S. urban center, the film uses a nonlinear structure to piece together the intertwined lives of three very different people. Paul (Sean Penn) is a math teacher with a heart problem and a troubled marriage to British wife Mary (Charlotte Gainsbourg). Christine (Naomi Watts) is a former drug addict who lives with her husband, Michael (Danny Huston), and her daughters. Jack (Benicio del Toro) is a born-again Christian with a wife (Melissa Leo) who has stood by him since his days as a criminal. Following a tragic accident, the three main characters are thrown into each other's lives. 21 Grams was shown in competition at the 2003 Venice International Film Festival. ~ Andrea LeVasseur, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

Gripping, compelling, resonant, and true to life by SBarnett May 23, 2006 - 3:36 PM PDT
4 out of 4 members found this review helpful
The only reason not to give this 10 stars is that its ambition is relatively limited--the story of three people's negotiation with life. But this is not to take anything away from the film. It gets better with each viewing. On the third viewing, you begin to understand why each segment of the story is presented where it is--the way the scenes are linked by subtle visual and thematic elements rather than strict chronology. A straightforward example early on is when we see Paul Rivers (Sean Penn) sitting in front of an empty pool with a revolver in his hand, and the next scene is Cristina Peck (Naomi Watts) swimming laps with her sister. The story was definitely not randomly divided into segments. Although this film would've been just as good as "Amores perros" or "Crash" if it had been presented strictly chronologically, it's a better film with more impact because of the way the scenes are presented. The director should be applauded for this, because a strictly chronological presentation would no doubt have attracted more viewers and made more money, at the expense of the film. The acting is absolutely riveting. Sean Penn, Naomi Watts, and especially Benecio del Toro were tremendous. This film has at its heart a dialogue about religion and the meaning of life (death), and to its credit it doesn't proselytize or condemn--it remains true to the struggle. It leaves you with questions--what is lost in death? What is gained?

21 Grams, and 2 hours of your life by REVDRG March 27, 2005 - 9:40 AM PST
4 out of 4 members found this review helpful
Powerful performances, and a plot line that keeps you guessing, are the reasons to watch this film. 21 Grams pace is sometimes cumbersome, and this film really does demand your full attention. Do not play this movie while you are cleaning the house, or reading the paper. It's very dramatic and unforgiving in tone, so be ready for that type of film when you watch this.

Too Demanding by squad September 17, 2004 - 7:52 PM PDT
3 out of 8 members found this review helpful
There is very, very little about the 21 gram theory (mythical or not) in this movie. The time sequence and character placement is very chopped up and it annoyed rather than interesting me. It is a grim movie involving heart transplants, hit and run accidents, drug use, and jail scenes, along with children as innocent direct and indirect victims. Sean Penn is seen masturbating, vomiting, in open heart surgery, and his unattractive nude body in a sex scene. Del Toro is an interesting actor and carried the film from my point of view. Unfortunately when compared to the root canal I had this week "21 Grams" comes out the loser.

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GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 6.49)
438 Votes
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