Babel (2006)

(In theaters, November 2006) One gunshot, four stories. But while the presence of a rifle, deadly danger, abusive policemen and an investigation that spans the globe may suggest an international thriller, Babel is closer to a set of four very intimate dramas. But then again, Babel isn’t about the stories as much as it’s about the way people fail to communicate, or simply the way they all live in today’s world. The solid ensemble cast is one of the finest international group of actors assembled for a single film: While American mainstream audiences will flock to see Cate Blanchett and Brad Pitt, their presence is scarcely more than a small portion of the entire film. The direction is skillful despite the impression that the stories aren’t as linked, nor as interesting as the screenplay wants them to be. It’s certainly a film for an older, less impatient audience, what with the time-jumping, relatively small scales and sometimes-unnerving subject matter. It speaks volumes, for instance, that any discussion of “horny Japanese schoolgirls” in the context of this film is a prelude to unimaginable heartache more than anything else: the conclusion is as significant for what didn’t happen that what did. And that’s the kind of film Babel ends up being, despite depending on one single gunshot.

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