Babel

Rated NR

Alberto González Iñárritu, who directed Amores Perros and 21 Grams, tries for an incredible amount of complexity in this tale of three continents and four interlocking stories. In North Africa, Ahmed and Yusuf, two preteen goatherds, get a new gun. Meanwhile, Richard (Brad Pitt) and Susan (Cate Blanchett) are on vacation in an attempt to get over the death of their infant son. Back in San Diego, their housekeeper is looking after their two surviving children and getting ready to go to her own son’s wedding in Mexico. And in Japan, deaf Chieko, a 16-year-old girl, longs for the kind of companionship that one reads about in adults-only manga. All of their stories link together when a bullet hits Susan in the neck, causing mayhem and leading to encounters with the Border Patrol, naked police interrogations in Tokyo and a tour bus full of irate passengers stuck in a tiny village with only one phone. I wish it had all worked a little better: In spite of the brilliant intricacy of the tale, it came off as a bit pat. There’s some great cinematography, especially in the Tokyo segments, and some beautiful scenes with the two North African brothers, but the central tale of Richard and Susan was a little too movie-of-the-week, and the story of the Hispanic housekeeper wound up preachy and obvious. It’s still worth seeing, but not as good as some of Iñárritu’s earlier work.

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