As the third film in director Alejandro González Iñárritu and screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga’s “Death” trilogy, Babel is as powerful, riveting, and intriguing as Amores Perros and 21 Grams. Similar to its counterparts, Babel is a complex, multinarrative drama that centers around one moment that leads to a collision of four separate groups on three continents.
The film begins as two teenage boys (played by the local non-professional actors Boubker Ait El Caid and Said Tarchini) are seen running through an isolated region of Morocco. From their father, they receive a Winchester rifle in order to protect the family’s goat herd from jackels. One day while tending the herd, the boys take practice shots at passing vehicles.
Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett portray an American couple, Richard and Susan Jones, whose marriage has reached a breaking point. While vacationing in Morocco, their lives are changed in one instant. Instead of fighting for their marriage, they must now fight to save their lives.
In parallel scenes, the Jones’ two children are being watched by their Mexican nanny, Amelia (Adriana Barraza) in San Diego. When the Jones’ cannot return home as planned, Amelia makes a crucial decision to take the children with her to her son’s wedding in Mexico. All is well until Santiago (Gael Garcia Bernal), Amelia’s nephew, panics when he is questioned at the border.
The last story is set in Japan. Chieko is the rebellious, deaf-mute daughter of a Japanese businessman and game hunter. Still reeling from her mother’s suicide, she demonstrates a sexually promiscuous nature. A police officer investigating her father, takes pity on the troubled teen.
These four very different but equally provactive stories, fit together as the foundation for Babel‘s intelligently crafted and beautifully formulated elements. Specific scenes such as Chieko, dancing at a night club and Santiago, driving through the night, demonstrate the highly creative and impactful filmmaking of director Iñárritu.
While Babel‘s ensemble cast is superb, Cate Blanchett, Adriana Barraza, Gael García Bernal, and Brad Pitt are stand-outs as they deliver heartbreaking and captivating performances.
After receiving multiple awards at the Cannes Film Festival (Best Director and the François Chalais Award) Babel, is an early Oscar contender. For it’s powerful direction, stunning narrative, and exceptional performances, Babel is sure to collect plenty of nominations throughout the season.
As of this moment, Babel is one of best releases of the year, but who knows what could come along. Just remember Million Dollar Baby and Brokeback Mountain.
Updated October 12, 2010