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Genre: Drama
Rated: R
Directed by
: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Starring: Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Gael García Bernal, Kôji Yakusho, Rinko Kikuchi
Released by: Paramount Vantage

In Short: Four far-flung yet interwoven stories combine into one intense, emotional drama that is already generating justifiable Oscar buzz.

When Worlds Collide
We're All Connected in Tragedy

by Jenny Peters

"Babel,” director Alejandro González Iñárritu’s follow-up to his earlier acclaimed efforts (“21 Grams” and “Amores perros”), emerges with a single focus. Along with his constant collaborator, screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga, Iñárritu is fascinated by how vastly different people and places throughout the world are interconnected. As with his previous two films, “Babel” tackles intensely dramatic subjects – random violence, suicide, gun control, the death of children, racism, even international terrorism – with a relentless viewpoint that is both gripping and disturbing.

Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett in Babel

The film begins in Morocco, where a goat herder and his family come into possession of a high-powered rifle, purchased to keep desert jackals from attacking their herd. From there, events unfurl with frightening randomness, as a single shot causes a ripple effect around the globe, from the Moroccan desert to a Tokyo high-rise to a Mexican family wedding near the California border. Tying it all together, Iñárritu takes filmgoers on a journey that is at times wrenching and delirious yet also compelling.


The performances delivered by the cast–Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett as American tourists on vacation in Morocco, Gael García Bernal and Adriana Barraza as Mexican immigrants and Kôji Yakusho and Rinko Kikuchi as a wealthy Japanese father and deaf-mute teenage daughter who connect to the others in an unexpected way—are exemplary. The shifting storylines are emotionally unsettling yet compelling, creating a whole that is troubling to watch but unforgettable in its power and emotional resonance. One person was overheard saying as the lights came up, “Boy, was that depressing!” Depressing it certainly is, but “Babel” will stay in your mind long after the credits roll, and most definitely will be in consideration among Academy members when nomination time rolls around in January.

(Updated: 08/30/07 NJ)

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