Nominated for Best Actress; Naomi Watts, Best Supporting Actor; Benicio Del Toro
21 Grams gives us the story of three people, and how their lives intersect, told in a kaleidoscope manner. Most movies progress in a linear fashion, looking something like this:
21 Grams looks more like this:
But for all that, I didn’t find this all that perplexing, as many reviewers seem to think. 15 minutes in Aslan and I had the whole plot nailed, and while we didn’t know everything, you never do in a movie. We certainly didn’t feel lost. Basically, if you’re smart enough to be a Hyperion X reader, you can follow 21 Grams.
But was it a good idea? There’s certainly a beauty behind it, as sometimes you know more than the characters, and sometimes they know more than you. Yet, ultimately it’s distracting. Also, in virtually the opening scene, we see the “big finish,” and I felt I didn’t have as much to look forward to.
The acting is the main reason to see this film. Sean Penn turns in a performance on par with his work in Mystic River. It was nice to see him underplay his role as a very ill man rather than his traditional overacting. Benicio Del Toro is fast becoming one of the world’s greatest actors. His performance as an ex-con trying to go right is so subtle; it was all the more disturbing.
And what can you say about Naomi Watts? Robbed of a nomination in Mulholland Drive and fascinating in The Ring, Watts finally gets her due. She is a major actress, potentially a big-time star, and I’d see the movie for her performance alone. There are several other characters, and they are all stellar as well. Whatever my issues with the director’s tics, he knows how to get great performances out of his people.
The only thing really left to talk about is the title, which I think was a poor choice and probably cost the film a lot of initial viewers. Many (like me) probably thought this was somehow a drug movie. While there is one scene of drugs in the film, this is definitely NOT a drug movie.
No, the title refers to something else, which I won’t reveal here either. It’s sort of a neat concept, something to talk about at dinner parties, but in this case, doesn’t help this movie. I would have called the film Nexus, which means a point of connection, but maybe I’m biased.
See this movie if you love great acting and aren’t bothered by a twisting story line or a little bit of objectionable material.