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Film and Video

MOVIE REVIEW

Babel Babel

Starring: Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Gael Garcia Bael, Koji Yakusho

In Babel, we find an American couple, Richard and Susan, are [Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett] traveling in Morocco when tragedy strikes. We see how the small village in which they find themselves treats them. They are wealthy and expect everything to happen right away. At a cafˇ stop prior to the tragedy, Susan orders a Diet Coke and asks, "Do you have anything without fat in it?" Richard seems amazed that they are "those" Americans. Yes, they are privileged white Americans and nothing is going to change that. This film might make people try to be nice or do something good for a few days or weeks. It is in the vein of what Crash wanted to do for race relations and while I believed I thought that film was over the top at times it was effective and go its points across.

This theme that despite our races and colors and nationalities, we are all under the same blanket of humanity is woven throughout the other parts of the film by director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and writer Guillermo Arriaga who made the much stronger films Amores perros and 21 Grams (both brought me to tears). While the American couple are away, their illegal immigrant (here, I had no sympathy for her when I found out her plight and it was a Latino Border Patrol officer who sends her back) nanny/housekeeper takes their two very blonde children to Mexico with her for her sonÕs wedding. Her other son, who is quite drunk (Gael Garcia Bael) causes the Border Patrol to ask questions and a pursuit ensues. And in another incongruous story, a young Japanese deaf-mute girl keeps taking off her panties and flashing boys and trying to get someone to have sex with her. It is cute at first but then gets old. Her mother apparently committed suicide and the audience begins to question the relationship her father has with her. Especially during the scene at the end. I do not want to give much away.

Babel is worth seeing because it does make you ponder humanity and the way in which we treat one another based on pre-conceived notions. It does just make me want a wall built all the way across Mexico, however. The performances were quite good but it did not work as well as it could have or should have in the end. Even top-notch actors like Pitt (playing angry most of the time, yelling at everyone and punching and kicking things) and Blanchett (writhing in pain) and Bernal (in his best deadbeat performance yet). Babel is beautifully done by a soulful, thoughtful filmmaker.

Grade: B


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