By Rebecca Redshaw
It’s 9:45 a.m. You’re the assistant to the assistant to the Assistant Director and you’re delivering the final script for approval by the Executive Producer. You barely avoid hitting the pedestrian in the crosswalk. You park in the handicap space risking a week’s pay on the inevitable tow of your twenty-year-old Datsun. Running up three flights of stairs to hand off your precious assignment, you trip on your untied shoelaces and the 120 pages you’ve promised to guard with your life, fly in every direction as an unexplained gust of wind tosses the pages like so many flakes in a globed snowball.
This is the fictional scenario that crossed my mind after seeing 21 Grams. Not to make light of a very serious movie, but if you rent this DVD (and I think it’s worth it) be prepared to make mental leaps forward and back in time as if the script were printed out of order.
I’m not sure how the script was written but it was supposedly shot sequentially which allows for a special tip of the hat to the work of the editor, Stephen Mirrione [Ocean’s Eleven].
Mirrione is joined behind the scenes by exceptional talent. Cinematographers Rodrigo Prieto [Frida] and Fortunato Procopio support director Alejandro González Iñárritu in this look at the fragility of life.
At the heart of the matter, and I mean that literally, are Sean Penn, Naomi Watts, and Benicio Del Toro whose characters’ lives intertwine by fate. Even though the picture is difficult to follow (at least while watching Memento the viewer just had to click into mental reverse), the performances of these three fine actors burst off the screen.
The depth of Watts’ portrayal of the tormented young widow is every bit worthy of her Oscar nomination. Penn underplays the tormented patient trying to make sense of a senseless situation to perfection. And Del Toro’s performance of a troubled soul searching for answers is reminiscent of the promise once demonstrated by a young Marlon Brando. Bravo to these three and the rest of the supporting cast.
21 Grams is a strong dose of life and death reality. Not for the faint or light of heart, but definitely worth its weight.