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Movie Review - Babel

Thursday, March 8, 2007

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Written by May Warren

Babel is a movie that shows us the consequences of each small action, and the strange intersections of our everyday and not so everyday lives. It opens with the exchange of a rifle by two Moroccan men and by the time it ends this weapon has managed to shape the lives of more then a dozen people on three different continents.

Staring an international ensemble cast that includes Academy Award Nominees Cate Blanchette, Adriana Barraza, and Rinko Kikuchi, the film’s personal performances are among its strong points. Adriana Barraza is especially good, showing us the realities of a Mexican domestic worker in the US caught up in an ugly border confrontation. Her character Amelia is left to care for her employer’s two small children while they vacation in Morocco, and is forced to take them across the border to her son’s wedding when Cate Blanchett’s character is shot on board a tour bus.

The film is beautifully shot, featuring intense landscapes everywhere from the most remote Moroccan village to the bright lights big city atmosphere of Tokyo Japan, and this is another one of its strong points. The intersecting vignettes of the film are intriguing but sometimes hard to follow, and although everything does come together in the end the scope of its themes may leave audience members feeling a bit bewildered.

The title of the film makes reference to the Tower of Babel and the difficulties language barriers can present, which is both interesting and frustrating for viewers who may tire of endless subtitles. It also runs a little long and becomes a bit tiresome halfway through. Because some stories are more enticing then others it’s hard to become engaged in one character and continent only to have the movie change locations in the next scene. Although it manages to incorporate multilingual, cross-cultural themes in a deft and skilful way, it’s almost too much and could have benefited from some good editing. Although it’s a very well done film there’s definitely room for improvement, although certainly not in the acting department.

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