Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett are the biggest stars in the film (Pitt allegedly turned down a role in The Departed in favour of Babel), but they pull off superbly understated performances, playing ordinary people stuck in an extraordinary situation. Brad Pitt really shines as Richard, a man desperately trying to keep his wounded wife alive, while stuck in a desert town where only one other person can speak English. He shows great range - going from raging to hopeless in a split second. He is also made to look as haggard and old as possible - a brave move for someone who was once a Hollywood pretty boy.
The theme of being lost runs throughout the film, and there are a number of beautiful parallels between the situations. Richard screaming for help to Moroccan villagers, while at the same time Chieko is isolated in her silence amid the hectic city thriving around her. Amelia wanders alone in the desert near the Mexican border, while the goatherd and his sons flee from the police across the unforgiving mountains.
The most heart wrenching story is that of Chieko, brilliantly illustrated though passages of dead silence interspersed with passages that have sound. A silent scene in which she stands amongst dancers in a nightclub, watching her friend kiss the boy she likes is one of the most poignant images Babel conjures, and it will stay with you for a long while.
Babel is about real people, in real situations, and doesn’t contain any glamour or romance, but the slick editing and weaving together of its various strands is so skilled that it holds your attention from the opening scene right to the very end. As in real life, there is no neat ending, and no conclusion to speak of, yet it offers so much more than most dramas. Fantastically directed, wonderfully acted, both entertaining and moving in equal measures - Babel is highly recommend viewing. Don’t miss it.
- Ivan Sadler
A single gunshot changes lives across the globe in Babel, an Oscar nominated drama from the maker of 21 Grams. This is world cinema at its vivid best.
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