21 Grams (2003)

(On DVD, July 2015) I’m really not a very good public for the kind of everything-is-related heavy-duty drama represented by 21 Grams.  It may be a powerhouse demonstration of actors’ skills (Sean Penn, Benitio del Toro and Charlize Theron all make good impressions in emotion-heavy roles) and its non-linear structure may increase the film’s interest like a puzzle box, but sometimes I don’t really have to work so hard to piece together a story that is so heavy on emotional manipulation, grief, loss, and high-stakes drama.  Director Alejandro González Iñárritu certainly knows how to shoot (and edit) a film but the script is the kind of one-wild-thing-after-another pile of contrivances that can either feel profound or meaningless.  The mystical element announced by the title is more metaphorical than interesting, whereas the jumbled chronological order of the film saves it from feeling too much like an overblown movie-of-the-week.  It’s the kind of weepy tear-jerker that seems to exist for award season and however successful it can be in its chosen genre, it’s just now what I’m looking for.  I do have to wonder, however, about the role of mood (mine) is dealing with such a film –I wasn’t receptive to 21 Grams, and even acknowledging its strengths can’t actually make me like it any more.

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