Babel

Cast: Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchette, Adriana Barazza, Gael Garcia Bernal, Koji Yakusho, Music: Gustavo Santaolalla, Director: Alejandro, Gonzales Inarritu

I am usually quite biased when it comes to Latin American directors. With them, there is one thing you are guaranteed with: Uniqueness. You will encounter some newness either in the story or in the presentation. They are often harshly realistic and in your face. Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu, though is not one of my favourites, I enjoyed all his movies. I loved Amorres Perros simply for its screenplay treatment though as a content, is highly forgettable. 21 Grams gripped you for its sheer veracity but its complex script gave me fatigue.

His Babel failed to stay in my heart after the credits rolled. I’m quite surprised because, if I have to state the positive aspects of this film, the list would be long. It is very realistic and typical of Latin American standards, stark, cruel and unapologetic in its presentation. The performances were quite credible and the music is measured and yet touching.

But why do I say that this move failed to touch me? Am I a closet moralist who was shocked and annoyed by the gross and graphic depiction of sex and violence in the movie? May be not because I have never been in favour of censorship of any kind anywhere and any creator has a liberty to choose his presentation style and method. I didn’t mind the nudity and stark depiction of Y Tu Mama Tambien because it was supposed to explain the struggles of growing up of two adolescents. Maria Full of Grace didn’t show the killing of the girl who carried the drugs in her stomach but I was grieved beyond words. What Babel required was the brazen honesty of Y Tu Mama or the compassion of Maria. I somehow felt that it lacked both.

While saying this, I must admit that, unlike in 21 Grams, the fractured screenplay in Babel made sense and it didn’t take much time to figure out the story. Also, the performances were quite compelling, especially of the Adriana Barazza (Amelia) and Gael Garcia Bernal (Santiago), the housemaid and her nephew. The performances of the American Tourists were stereotypical yet convincing. Unfortunately, neither the great music nor these performances made much impact.

Babel ended up being a very realistic, neo-modernistic presentation that’s so clever that it leaves you cold in the end.