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    21 Grams

    The year of the Gram

    "21 Grams," from the director of "Amores Perros," is one of 2003's finest films — a dizzyingly diced up and masterfully acted story about the precious agony of life.


    One of several "dark" holiday films (including the upcoming "Sand and Fog" and "Cold Mountain"), the kaleidoscopic "21 Grams" features three of the year's most astonishing dramatic turns from stars Naomi Watts, Sean Penn and Benicio Del Toro, plus enough jump cuts to give you vertigo.

    21 GRAMS
    Directed by: Alejandro Gonz‡lez I–‡rritu.
    Written by: Guillermo Arriaga.
    Cast: Sean Penn, Benicio Del Toro, Naomi Watts, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Danny Huston, Clea DuVall, Chance Romero, Marc Musso, David Chattam, Teresa Delgado, Stephen Bridgewater, Kevin Chapma.
    Cinematography: Rodrigo Prieto.
    Music by: Gustavo Santaolalla.

    Related links: Official site
    New York Film Festival 2003
  • 21 Grams
  • The Barbarian Invasions
  • Crimson Gold
  • Dogville
  • Elephant

  • The Flower of Evil
  • The Fog of War
  • Mystic River
  • Raja
  • S21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine

  • Festival site
    Available from

    21 Grams


    21 Grams soundtrack

    In his successful sophomore effort (and first English language film), Alejandro Gonz‡lez I–‡rritu recapitulates some of the techniques he used in his debut film, "Amores Perros." Several story lines are tied together by an auto crash, but the principals in "21 Grams" are also connected by the un-asked question, "Why is a dead body 21 grams lighter than a live one?" The film suggests that's the exact weight of the departed's soul.

    I–‡rritu revs up his whiz-bang editing style (courtesy of award-winning editor Stephen Mirrione/"Traffic"), jumping back and forth and even sideways in time, to force our complete attention to the multi-skeined stories he wishes to tell. He has cast three actors at the top of their craft to delineate these stories and each delivers an extraordinary performance. But be forewarned, the jillion jump cuts plus the handheld camera of cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto, may also induce vertigo.

    21 Grams  
    A master director of actors, I–‡rritu elicits the very best from a brilliant cast. Penn plays Paul, a mild mannered, unhappily married mathematician waiting for a heart transplant, as a 180-degree turn inward from his volatile "Mystic River" stint. Watts is luminous as Christina, a clean and sober former drug addict with a loving husband and children. Not least among the film's myriad accomplishments is Del Toro's towering performance, as Jack, a born-again ex-con, a role that proves him the screen equal of Penn — a feat unmatched by any of his "Mystic River" cohort.

      21 Grams
    Paul, Christina and Jack undergo emotional and physical changes that none could possibly imagine, as they are battered by life at its most capricious and ugly. How they're finally drawn together and with what tragic consequences is played with both razor-sharp insights and occasional borderline melodramatics. At one point Jack's wife — an excellent supporting performance by the too-little-seen Melissa Leo — tells her overzealous husband, "Life has to go on, with or without God," and while it sounds a bit pretentious, it certainly sums up the human condition in a nutshell.

    "21 Grams" takes us on a roller-coaster ride through such immense themes as life, death, responsibility, guilt, grief, survival and even that most amorphous state — grace. Is it God, or fate or random chance that takes life, gives life, exchanges life? And who may receive forgiveness? Audaciously careening between the portentous and the sublime, I–‡rritu lands securely as one of the year's best directors, with one of its most thoughtful and thought-provoking films.

    NOVEMBER 21, 2003

    Reader comments on 21 Grams:

  • Stunning FIlm, with amazing performances!   from Faisal Khan, Jan 13, 2004
  • "21 Grams"   from M.E. Onglatco, Feb 3, 2004
  • 21 grams   from Max In Montreal, Apr 6, 2004
  • take a good look   from life is priceless, May 27, 2004

  • Post a comment on "21 Grams"