Saturday, April 03, 2004

Ease Their Pain

  • movie review: 21 Grams

    21 Grams poster A movie comes along once in a while, with little or no hype other than the prerequisite critically favourable reviews [but without the box-office numbers to match] and totally blows me away. And this time it is 21 Grams. I just saw it on DVD and it is quite emotional, even on the small screen.

    The movie involves three separate characters whose lives become intertwined due to a tragic car accident. Sean Penn's character is suffering from a bad heart and can barely lead a normal life, yet alone a relationship with his girlfriend. Benicio Del Toro is an ex-convict and born-again Christian with a loving wife and children of his own, and he finally seems to have gotten his life back on track. Naomi Watts is a typical upper middle class woman with a husband and two daughters living a typical upper middle class life.

    In a fraction of a second, a car accident will set a series of events in motion that change the characters' lives forever. I'm tempted to go into more detail but I would not want to spoil this movie for anyone.

    21 Grams is driven as much by its dialogue as it is by it's non-dialogue or quiter moments; in the camera shots of a run-down motel room, in the camera shots of Naomi Watts swimming at the local recreational centre pool, in the sadness of the facial expressions of the characters are just several examples

    21 Grams also relies on non-linear storytelling, a la Pulp Fiction. But where in Pulp Fiction, non-linear storytelling was maybe more of a gimmick, in 21 Grams it seems very natural. In 21 Grams you see events happen and find out HOW they happened as the film progresses. But this technique is not merely plot-related; it has alot to do with the emotional undertow of the film. The film would establish certain plot developments, regardless of linearity, but it is the emotional responses towards these plot developments which seemed more important. I felt the emotions of the characters much more strongly because of it.

    The main theme that I could pinpoint within the film is that each character is trying to ease his or her own pain. The film is a bit of a downer but offers a glimmer of hope at the end. The loss or pain that each character experiences has changed their lives forever and going on with their lives will take a series of 'baby steps'.

No comments:

Post a Comment