21 Grams

A Film Review By Jason L. King

Rating: Rated R for language, Violence and nudity
Starring:Sean Penn, Naomi Watts, Benicio Del Toro
Directed By:Alejandro González Iñárritu

Final Grade:

I learned from the trailer of this film that we all lose 21 Grams at the exact moment that we die. I also learned that if you are someone like me you spend something like 21 hours trying to figure out what the movie 21 Grams is about. 21 Grams is the weight of a chocolate bar, the weight of a humming bird, and the weight of a one man’s guilt, one man’s life and one woman’s revenge.

What is 21 Grams? What is its significance? If you followed most people’s point of view you thought the movie was about drugs. Well surprise, it’s not. In fact the movie is more of a character study of three very interesting characters. The first being a mathematician who receives a heart transplant, the second an ex con who has cleaned up and found faith in the Lord, and a woman who’s life is forever changed. Their lives all intersect with one another’s after a tragic accident takes place.

The acting in 21 Grams is what makes this a great flick. Sean Penn leads the way with yet another surprisingly amazing performance. Penn just might be one of the greatest actors of his time, but many people loathe the man because of his outlandish anti-war statements he has made in the past. But his political feelings set aside, as a moviegoer you should look at his acting, and he proves in this film and Mystic River that Sean Penn can indeed act. He is paired up with Naomi Watts who’s acting is worth an Oscar nod, and the always intriguing Benicio Del Toro as the Ex Con. Del Toro is wonderfully cast, and his cold, silent type character he always portrays on the big screen works extremely well for him.

However the film has its flaws. The storyline should be really simple and straightforward. It should flow quickly form scene to scene. However, the director instead decides to make the story jump from present day to past in just a second’s notice and then back to present day within a blink of an eye. In fact, I spent the first half of the movie deciphering what was present day and what was past. By the time the average moviegoer figures that out, he or she is already got a headache and the movie is only half way done. For some movies it works to jump around, but in the case of 21 Grams if felt more like a great story being told by someone with extremely bad Attention Deficit Disorder rather than an interesting way to tell a great story. The other questionable thought is the director’s choice to film the movie with such a “gritty” feel to it. The style of the film is shot in a way very reminiscent of Traffic and Way of the Gun which also by coincidence both star Benicio Del Toro. Maybe he just looks cooler when shot that way. I don’t know. To some people it is great cinematography, to others it drives them insane.

Whether or not to go see 21 Grams really shouldn’t be the question. That is an easy one. Three outstanding performances by great actors make the movie worth watching. The real question is if this film is the average movie goers cup of tea. If you are looking for something that does have a clear cut easy to follow plot but sucks you even if it is to figure out what is going on, this is your film. If you want something simple and easy to follow with still great performances, stick to stuff like Mystic River or go rent something that you know you will like.