Alejandro González Iñárritu
Sean Penn, Benicio del Toro, Naomi Watts, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Melissa Leo, Clea DuVall, Danny Huston
Widescreen; closed caption; English, French audio tracks; French, Spanish, English subtitles; "'21 Grams': In Fragments" featurette.
|Although not so fetid and excruciating as his powerful breakthrough "Amores Perros," "21 Grams" is a masterful English-language feature debut from Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu. It resembles the anthology-styled "Amores Perros" in its interweaving of three stories linked by a single catastrophe, yet "21 Grams" differs in its use of a nonlinear, time-shifting narrative. The piecemeal structure turns "21 Grams" into a nerve-racking puzzle with a methodically revealed solution. Most of the action in "21 Grams" leads to or radiates from an automobile accident that rips apart the lives of the main characters. Sean Penn is brilliant as a college professor who has a literal change of heart that plunges him into a deep emotional abyss. Naomi Watts is utterly believable as a well-off suburban wife and mother who reverts to her old drug-abusing ways when she's overwhelmed by unforeseen tragedy. And Benicio del Toro is a fearsome, tragic figure as an ex-con/recovering alcoholic who aches to do the right thing and is mocked by the cruel vagaries of fate when his temper gets the better of him. Reuniting the director, screenwriter and cinematographer of "Amores Perros," "21 Grams" packs a wallop comparable to that of its predecessor.|