Monday, 28 October 2013

Babel (2006) - ★★★★★

Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Writers: Guillermo Arriaga, Alejandro González Iñárritu
Stars: Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Rinko Kikuchi, Adriana Barraza, Boubker Ait El Caid, Said Tarchani, Mustapha Rachidi, Gael Garcia Bernal, Koji Yakusho, Sanae Miura, Yuko Marata, Satoshi Nikaido

Babel is one of the most emotional, powerful films I've ever seen. I'll never forget it... even if I never see this film again, the images are seared into my brain forever, as is the beautiful score. It's a masterpiece, thanks to the outstanding performances by its extremely talented, multicultural cast. Each story touched a piece of my soul, and left a lasting mark. This is the first film I've ever seen by Iñárritu, who is famous for his films displaying the human condition using an array of characters. All I can really say about Babel is this: it got to me. The young Moroccan brothers... the lonely Japanese teenage-girl... the kind Mexican child-carer... and the wounded American couple... These characters will stay with me forever.

This is a film about a number of different people from different backgrounds, and how their lives tie in with each other. Yussef (Boubker Ait El Caid) and Ahmed (Said Tarchani) are young brothers from Morocco. Richard and Susan Jones (Pitt and Blanchett) are middle-aged parents that are holidaying in Morocco. Amelia (Adriana Barraza) has been looking after the Jones' children for many years. Chieko Wataya (Rinko Kikuchi) is a deaf-mute Japanese teenager from Japan. A significant and tragic event links their lives together, which explains why we are following their story. However, it is their actions, their circumstances, their feelings, and their outcomes that make-up this masterpiece of cinema. It's not a film that aims to show similarities or differences between human-beings... it's just a film about people. That's what I love about it. 

I'm trying to find words to describe the story of these two boys... but no words are strong enough.
I personally felt that the Moroccan family's story was the most tragic and masterful aspect of the film. My caption above describes how I feel about it. All I can think to say is that those boys broke my heart. You get to know them, feel their situations... then the unthinkable happens. Their journey has some of the most beautiful scenes I've ever seen. The cinematography is phenomenal, very worthy of an Academy Award... What's more important is that it entails one of the most tragic, moving stories I've ever had the privilege to watch unfold.  

Pitt and Blanchett prove that they're more than just Hollywood royalty.
The story of the American couple was probably the weakest point of the film for me, however, it was done in a beautiful and effective way nonetheless. Blanchett plays such a believable, normal human being. The scene where she broke down in tears at the Moroccan restaurant is one of the greatest pieces of acting I've ever seen her do. Pitt also gave quite a moving performance. My only reservation with him is that at times it looked like he tried too hard to look heartbroken. But most importantly, these two had phenomenal chemistry which made their situation so very intense and moving.

Adriana Barraza deserved the Oscar for her  spine-chillingly tragic performance. 
I found the most intense and heart-warming story to be that of Amelia, a Mexican woman that has cared for two American children all their lives. Her smiles, her softness, her genuinely kind nature, and the love she has for those kids made me instantly fall in love with her character. Barraza showed such a broad range of emotion in this film. The depth she brought to her character, with both subtle and excessive emotions, is what made her story so darn easy to grow attached to. When she wandered through the desert in high-heels and a red dress... I lost all control over my emotions. The sheer amount of panic and desperation on her face was a tour de force of acting. One of the greatest supporting performances of all time I believe. 

Rinko Kikuchi gave  a daring, tragic, and utterly breathtaking performance.
My absolute favourite sections of the film were that of Cheiko, played by Rinko Kikuchi. Without a doubt, I'd give both Kikuchi and Barraza Oscars for Supporting Actress in Babel. These two pushed the emotional depth of the film into greatness, and carried much of the intrigue and emotion with them. Kikuchi gave the most tender and tragic performance out of the whole cast. Cheiko misses her deceased mother, she can't talk to her father, and she searches for love in the wrong places. What made Kikuchi's performance so masterful was the way she could seamlessly portray loneliness in her character. It's not hard to analyse Cheiko's life and figure out what has led her to feel the way she does (abandonment issues, growing up different to others, her mother's death). I just felt a powerful sympathy for Chieko. She managed to touch my heart more than any other character in the film. That final scene, with her father on the balcony, had me in tears. 

An example of the beautiful imagery in Babel.
So many great actors, so many heart-wrenching stories, and so much to take in. It's not hard to see why some may feel a bit overwhelmed, or put-off by this film. Not me though. Everything about Babel screamed 'masterpiece' to me. I applaud the cast of this film for their legendary performances and beautifully developed characters, which made their stories just sweep me away and feel an array of powerful emotions. You know what is the cherry on the cake? The unbelievably moving score by Gustavo Santaolalla. The musical composition of this film felt as if it was a living being in itself... just perfect for a film about people. So while many people don't agree with me (critics gave it a 6.9/10 overall), I found Babel to be one of the greatest films ever made. A pure classic that deserves accolades for as long as cinema exists.


  1. An excellent review. You have seen into the film and lived the emotions of all the people involved.

  2. In my opinion, probably one of the most underrated films I've come across. The Rotten Tomatoes score seems too low.

  3. Nice review agree both chieko and morrocan boys stories are so powerful and touched my heart

  4. Nice review agree both chieko and morrocan boys stories are so powerful and touched my heart