21 Grams

Leah and I, as I mentioned, saw ’21 Grams’ on Tuesday night. It’s a film that’s been out for quite a while, and had always been on my list to see, but I never quite got around to it. I’m quite glad I did see it though.

It starts Sean Penn, Naomi Watts & Benicio Del Toro, and all of them are deserving of some award nominations. The acting was impeccable, and their ability to convey the raw, hurt emotions that was required of them was amazing. They were all quite believable as the characters they were portraying. The supporting cast was excellent too, with the lone exception of the priest, whom I found sursprisingly unbelievable in the role. He simply didn’t convey the conviction required of his role, I think.

The plot, the story, the cinematography were all great, with the film shifting from clear to grainy to match the mood of the scene & characters (understandably, it was mostly grainy). It was well directed too, however I’ve a couple of qualifications to both the direction and editing: It was really, really good, and really distinctive. However, I felt very much like I was watching an over-ambitious film-school graduate’s first film. There were so many ‘artisitic’ devices, with the jumping chronology and cut-scene shots, it was like watching a ‘top 10 art-film effects’ movie. It seemed a clear indication of a lack of maturity on the part of the director & editor, as while they were all well-executed, there was just so much that it detracted from this otherwise amazing film.

Finally, I was somewhat disapointed in how little a role the title idea played in the film (the idea is that at death, everyone loses exactly 21 grams, so what’s contained in that (that’s not a spoiler, it’s in all the commercials)). There’s a Sean Penn monologue at the end that goes over that, but there’s never really a reason given for it. Nor did it totally tie everything together, I thought. It is possible that I missed something in it (the visuals were engrossing, distracting me from the monologue, which may be indicative of something), but I felt like if that was their ‘thing’, they should have made more of it – maybe start the film on the monolgue, to get people thinking about it, then come back to it to fill in the blanks at the end again. I’m not sure what (which is why I’m an armchair critic and not a director), but something wasn’t quite right.

So again, I’m seeming overly critical of these good movies, but I think it’s because they’re so close to glory, it’s agony that they’re not. I highly recommend seeing this movie, in theatres on on video. This is the sort of film it’s worth paying for, if only so the directors get some success and get a chance to make another film.