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BABEL by Alejandro González Iñárritu

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An estranged couple (Richard: Brad Pitt and Susan: Cate Blanchett) on a trip through Morocco, goat herder Hassan (Abdelkader Bara) and his two sons Yussef and Ahmed (Boubker Ait El Caid and Said Tarchani), Amelia (Adriana Barraza), the nanny of Richard’s and Susan’s kids (Debbie: Elle Fanning and Mike: Nathan Gamble) in San Diego, the deaf-mute teenage girl Chieko (Rinko Kikuchi) in Tokyo – all their lifes are connected.
Hassan buys a Winchester rifle for his two sons so they can protect the goat herd from jackals, and out in the desert the boys use cars for target practice, and a bullet fired by Yussef hits Susan. It’s hours to the next hospital, and tour guide Anwar (Mohamed Akhzam) suggests they go to the nearest village and ask the local doctor – who is in fact a veterinarian – for help.
Word of the incident spreads, and while the US media and officials suspect an act of terrorism, the police is looking for the owner of the rifle. Yussef and Ahmed confess to their father, and the three of them try to escape.
Back in San Diego, Amelia wants to visit her son’s wedding in Mexico and decides to take the kids with her. But on the way back her nephew Santiago (Gael García Bernal) – driving drunk and carrying a gun – panicks at the border control and finally leaves Amelia, Debbie and Mike in the middle of the desert.
The third – and at first seemingly unconnected – story is about a deaf-mute girl in Tokyo who suffers from the rejection of the boys her age, the recent suicide of her mother and the emotional distance of her father and is desperately seeking closeness and love.

The title Babel refers to Genesis 11:1-9 and the themes of BABEL are disconnection in an ever more closely connected world and the inability – or refusal – to communicate and to listen.
It’s not so much the language barrier but the attitude that creates and increases problems instead of solving them, and what the director and the scriptwriter (Guillermo Arriaga) achieve is to describe the state of the world in the fate of a couple individuals.
And despite of brutal policeman, brusque border police, disinterested tourists or bureaucratic diplomats, there are no outright evil people, but calamity happens mostly because of carelessness and indifference. Nevertheless, it’s not all darkness and despair – there is compassion and humanity even in the middle of the desert: Anwar helps Richard to look after his wife unselfishly and it’s due to him that this episode doesn’t end in death and tragedy.

All actors – from superstar Brad Pitt to the non-professional cast – are excellent (even if Brad Pitt may be a tiny bit misplaced in a film like BABEL despite his ‘old-man’ make-up), and so is the camerawork by Rodrigo Prieto.

Recommended.


BABEL Trailer

One Response to “BABEL by Alejandro González Iñárritu”

  1. itsvery Movie Review Blog - Independent Film Reviews » THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON by David Fincher Says:

    […] Blanchett and Brad Pitt are united again after Babel, and it’s still a pleasure to watch them both. But while the movie is visually and […]

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