Wednesday, December 20, 2006

JIFFest: Babel (2006)

I've been out of town in this week, that even though the Jiffest has officially ended last Sunday, i still had a couple reviews waiting to be published.

Probably the most anticipated film at the Jiffest. The tickets for Babel has been sold out more than a week before the festival begun. I was lucky to had one. And along with The Queen, it was the best film i've seen in this year's festival.

Following his two previous works, Amores Perros (which is awesome), and 21 Grams (which in exception of Sean Penn as leading role, also quite superior), Alejandro Gonzales Innaritu employs a multiple narrations that overlaps one another without any fixed time-lines. But it doesn't hard to follow. The film weaves a story of four different set characters whose never seen one another during the film and scattered in various locations in the world (Morocco, Japan, and Mexico). These characters and stories were connected with a single gun, and a single shot. In my opinion, this film was quite similar with Amores Perros concerning the message it carries. Love, Reasons, and Resolutions. But if i had to chose which one is better among other, i would inclined to Amores Perros. Since it was more personal, and more tight. The only problem of Babel that keep arousing once and a while was that the film tends to overlong. With almost two and a half hour, you could easily imagine. Fortunately, though, the narration jumped at the right places that it could keep myself from being bored.

Moreover, this film had quite an ensemble casts. From the deaf-mute Chieko, to an intrepid Yussuf, all the characters seemed able to unleash their true potentials. This was the best work i've seen from Gael Garcia Bernal (though he had only limited screen time), and probably the best emotional role from Brad Pitt though he was also scarcely on stage. And of course, Cate Blanchett. I dont have to comment on her. She was great as usual. Now I really loved to see such actors like Brad Pitt took the role on an ensemble film like this, I could really appreciate how far he had transgressed from multi million dollars paycheck to a small role that actually explore his capability. And he looks so old, and weary, in this film, which is good.

My favourite slice of story from this film was one that belongs to Chieko (or the Japan storyline), who magnificently played by Rinko Kikuchi (pictured). The story never falter and i found myself waiting anxiously to wait for the Japan storyline to unravel druing the course of this film. She has the most complete arc of character in this film. She began with a resolute, independent girl, but had her share of griefs, turned into a lonely and desperate girl, and complete the circle by anchoring her desperation to one she loves best and returned again to a resolute, but much stronger girl. She was the most interesting character in this film. And that end shot where we see her it's one shot that i remembered seeing with a lot of emotions swelling inside my heart that i was on a brink of tears if people around me doesn't rustling to get out of their seat in haste (damn, those people). It's no wonder that Rinko Kikuchi got nominated for a best performance from actress in a supporting role at the next Golden Globe 2007.

Babel was scheduled to release shortly at 21 theaters near you (or is it already?), go catch it. You won't be dissatisfied. Scout Honor.

Babel, 2006
Directed by: Alejandro Gonzales Innaritu
Running Time: 142 mins.
My Rating: **** / **** (Rinko Kikuchi)

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