21 Grams

Teresa Delgado and Benicio Del Toro. Pic Jim Sheldon

I finally got to see the much heralded ’21 Grams’. My response…?! This was one heck of a drama, deeply effecting.
What is it about?! Well, that’s a whole argument in itself. Everyone has their own theories; it is such an intense film.
My reading is that, at its highest, it is about troubled souls, pushed by circumstances to the very edge, and not sure which way to move.

It is about three people’s lives that are forever intertwined after a fatal car accident.

Our own local actress Naomi Watts plays Christina Peck. What an uphill road she has to climb! Her world has been pulled out from under her. Her husband and two young children have been killed in a car accident. She loses her ability to cope.
Christina starts to backslide. Before she was married she had a big drug problem. She resorts back to drugs. Then just as she slides back into the darkness of drugs, an important stranger befriends her.
Watts’s performance is riveting. She gets inside her role with great intensity. My favourite Watts scene…It’s a scene where she doesn’t say any words. It is post the fatal car accident. She is walking through her house, past her marital bedroom, past the childrens’ room, one knows exactly what she’s thinking. She’s thinking loss…enormous, unbearable loss.

Benicio Del Torro, so terrific in ‘Traffic , plays ex con Jack Jordan. Again, he proves what a great dramatic actor he is. Jordan is a man in great conflict. He has turned his life around from a life of crime by his strong Christian faith. He has a beautiful wife and kids.
Then he is the driver responsible for the car accident that kills Christina’s husband and kids. In a panic he leaves the accident scene. Later, he confesses to the police. The accident freezes him in time, he can’t seem to move forward in his life. He can’t reconcile what has happened with his belief in a benevolent God.
My favourite Del Torro scene…He is in a desolate room with a blade in his hand and he is looking at the tattoo of Jesus Christ on his arm. With his blade, he cuts away at the Christ tattoo. His sense of spiritual despair is all pervading.

Sean Penn plays mathematics professor Paul Rivers. Rivers is desperately ill and is awaiting a heart transplant. His wife is trying to get impregnated by him before he passes away. The will to live is draining away from him.
As fate would have it, Rivers is the recipient of Christina’s dead husband’s heart, and has another chance at life. He has a new motivation, to connect with the dead husband’s wife and .
My favourite Sean Penn scene…it was early on in the film. Rivers is smoking in the toilet, which actually says a lot, because the act of smoking is incredibly hazardous for him. Penn conveys his character’s sense of hopelessness and futility.
One can sense that he really feels no purpose in living any further. Again a terrific dramatic scene, and again a scene where not a word is spoken and so much meant.

Directed by Alejandro Inarritu and written by Guillermo Arriags, ‘21 Grams’ is a film well worth seeing.