sort of a cross between magnolia and pulp fiction, but not as good as either. like magnolia, it’s a story about several characters who are all linked in someway by death. though i suppose in a way it’s more like that awful film “the hours” in that it shows each person affected by a death – the murderer, the victims, the victims’ family, and the lucky sap who gets the donor heart from one of the victims. in “the hours” it was about the writer of a book, a person being affected by the writing and a person who was living the life of the written story. how exciting. it was like pulp fiction to a lesser extent. it messed with time…telling the different stories without regard to time. one moment we’re seeing things in chronological and the next we’ll get a glimpse of the end of the film. it never got very confusing, which was a success of the editing and direction, but i didn’t really get the feeling that messing with the time structure was necessary.
it was a very indie film, in style – lots of handhelds, lots of jump cuts (showing a person standing and then cutting to them sitting down, from the same angle…just a second or so cut out), and it appeared to be shot using digital cameras. there’s a certain aesthetic to the indie style, but i’m not sure i always like it. for example, what’s the point of showing someone standing and then cutting out the half second of film that comes as they decide to take a seat. perhaps it has become a convention. perhaps the convention started because independent filmmakers didn’t have the resources for multiple takes so they would just cut out a half second her or there where the untrained actor looked at the camera, or where the film was damaged, or etc. i don’t honestly know, but if you can explain what it adds to the film i’d be happy to hear it.
none of the characters were sympathetic and that was both good and bad. good because it allowed me to look at the primary theme of the film (death) in a more detached way. and bad because by the end of the film i just wanted it to end – i didn’t care what was going to happen with them. the performances were good, but again i didn’t care about sean penn’s character enough to cry when he cried or smile when he smiled. that was true for all of the characters – to varying degrees. additionally, the film sort of felt like a vehicle for best acting nominations – it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see four best supporting actor/actress and best actor/actress nominations.
amores perros (also directed by inarritu) was about several different people who experienced love, and loss thereof, in different ways, whereas 21 grams was about several different people who experienced death in different ways. the difference is that amores perros felt genuine and had characters who were both real, in that they had defects, and sympathetic, because they exhibited humanity amongst the inhumanity of the world. 21 grams was too unbalanced to be as good as it should have been. sometimes affecting, but ultimately more affected.Watched in theater