The third collaboration between Director Alejandro González Iñárritu and writer Guillermo Arriaga (Amores Perros, 21 Grams) is a multi-stranded epic, spanning three continents.
A rifle shot in the African desert sparks a chain of events linking a group of Western tourists, two Moroccans schoolboys, a nanny illegally crossing into Mexico, and a deaf Japanese teenager desperately trying to lose her virginity. Warning: also featuring Brad Pitt with “serious” beard and dyed-grey hair.
Babel is a worthy, thought-provoking epic that attempts to examine man’s inability to communicate - hence the title based on the biblical tale about the Tower of Babel – but, ironically, left us wondering exactly what point it was trying to make.
Using the same scrambled chronology and jumbled plotting as in his previous scripts, Arriga draws comparisons between different societies and races across the globe by linking them together through one freak accident.
However, whereas the car crash in Amores Perros had an obvious, direct impact on all of the individual storylines, the same can not be said of Babel and the four plots are far too remotely connected for us to accept the premise that the film is based on.
Also, unlike Crash or Syriana - two similarly-constructed movies that did convince in this respect - the final resolution linking the plots together is irritatingly unsatisfying.
This is exacerbated by the 142 minutes running time, and despite some brilliantly tense moments, stunning cinematography, and fine acting (from Pitt in particular), the ponderous pacing soon begins to grate.
Honourable but never really enjoyable, striking but never astonishing, multi-cultural but driven by Pitt’s Hollywood persona, Babel is an ambitious film that critics are likely to adore but left us feeling emotionally cold.
Staring: Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Gael Garcia Bernal, Adriana Barraza, Rinko Kikuchi, Boubker Ait El Caid, Said Tarchani
Directed by: Alejandro González Iñárritu