- Actors: Sean Penn, Benicio del Toro, Naomi Watts
- Format: AC-3, DTS Surround Sound, Dubbed, Import, NTSC, Widescreen
- Language: English
- Dubbed: French
- Region: Region A/1
- Number of discs: 1
- MPAA Rating:
- Studio: Focus Features
- Release Date: Nov. 18 2008
- Run Time: 123 minutes
- Average Customer Review: 120 customer reviews
- ASIN: B001MWBK6I
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21 Grams (21 grammes) [Blu-ray] (Bilingual)
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Import Blu-ray/Region A pressing. The emotionally and physically charged lives of three people, a college professor (Sean Penn), an ex-con (Benicio Del Toro) and a young mother with a reckless past (Naomi Watts), collide unexpectedly in this gripping suspense thriller. Fate brought them together. Now vengeance will take them to the heights of love, the depths of revenge and the promise of redemption. Penn, Del Toro and Watts give the finest performances of their careers in the film that is tantalizingly alive!.
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To call this film intense is an understatement. I experienced some serious emotional pain during the 125 minute running time and found myself questioning why I was putting myself through such an ordeal. And make no mistake, much of this is extremely painful material, from the moment one sees Penn wheezing for breath while stealing what could be a final smoke, to watching Watts learn that her family is no more, while being advised that it is best not to view the remains, through experiencing Del Toro's tormenting doubts about whether he betrayed Christ or Christ betrayed him, as he burns the tattooed cross off his arm. This is not easy entertainment, nor is it a film for those with a low pain threshold. Yet Mexican writer/director team Guillermo Arriaga and Alejandro González Iñárritu, (Amores Perros), have put together an extremely powerful, compelling, character-driven tale and the performances are brilliant, as one would expect from such a superb ensemble cast. The film's sequence is not in chronological order, but this lack of linear intent did not disturb me at all. I adjusted fairly easily to the movie's collage-like rhythms. It was the constant darkness and suffering that wore me down. The ending did not disappoint me as it did some others. I actually found it to be somewhat poetic, but I won't give it away. This is worth seeing for the acting alone - but only for the strong of heart!
The technique of splintering a plot into a chronological puzzle is ably handled in the first hour. By exploiting our hunger for a coherent narrative, the film draws one in - however, after being asked to do some work, a viewer expects a commensurable reward, in terms of character development or surprise in plot structure or depth of ideas, and here the film disappoints. The plot relies on chance, the characters border on the cliched, and the ideas own a superficial suggestiveness without deeper riches. So the last hour becomes tedious, and with the splintering over, the linear plot is revealed as poorly motivated in parts.
The cinematic effects are skilled, at times spectacular, but as they do not subserve the demands of the story, they draw attention to themselves, in a showy, at times, irritating manner. The director seems at pains to prove his own worth.
The acting has been widely praised, and in a sense it is deserving. The director's intentions appear admirably fulfilled, and the actors display a wide range of emotions - if only these intentions had been better thought through, then the emotions might well have resonated more lastingly. As it is, the film is more a spectacle than a meditation, an entertainment rather than art, and its detail is quickly forgotten.
Make no mistake, this is not the work of a major director. At best, Inarritu might stand alongside Tarantino. He has aspired to work with the American studios and has succeeded in measuring up to their standards.
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