Heavily theme-oriented movies tend to be problematic. Either they focus too much on the theme at the expense of plot and character or they develop the film well but fail to really delve into the theme. Babel, fortunately, manages to do both very nicely. The central idea of the film is human communication--or, more accurately, miscommunication--and what really impressed me about the movie was how when I thought back over it, nearly every single interaction between any of the characters involved miscommunication in some way. But rather than getting lost in mere ideas, the writer managed to construct a very compelling set of intertwining storylines, which were brought to life by some very skillful performances. My one complaint would be Brad Pitt. Not to say he did a bad job, it's just that I don't understand why they would pick such an iconically young and virile actor for a role and then age him with makeup. For one thing, there are plenty of older-looking actors out there who could have carried off the role as well or better, and, for another, there didn't seem to be any particular reason for his character to look old. It's a pretty minor criticism, though, and I'd definitely recommend this one.
Viewed: 2/8/2007 | Released: 10/26/2006 | Score: A
Let me preface this review with the statement that I have little to no interest in the British monarchy. Oh, I do find the institution to be somewhat intriguing from a historical standpoint, but I have no real interest in the actual individuals as celebrities. Despite that, I found this movie to be quite compelling. To begin with, the acting was simply flawless across the board--Helen Mirren definitely deserves all the attention she's been getting this year on the awards circuit. The film documents the reactions of the Royal Family in the aftermath of Princess Diana's death and I would imagine that people who are interested in the royals will find that aspect of it fascinating. For me, though, it wasn't so much the action of the film that drew me in as what it revealed about the characters. We're presented with a portrait of people who are so isolated by privilege, so wrapped in layers of protocol and ceremony, that they are almost completely unable to relate to the ordinary people they supposedly symbolize. It actually left me feeling kind of sorry for them--it seems like a lonely life. A film that takes a subject I don't care anything about and manages to draw me in like that, well, that's a film I can recommend.
Viewed: 2/2/2007 | Released: 10/5/2006 | Score: A