Good, In Any Language

11 Feb

As I’ve previously said, when I see movies after the Oscar nominations have been announced, I’m skeptical that the movie is that good.

So I’m happy to say that yes, Babel is a very good movie.

Is it one of the year’s best? Sure, I’d say it’s worthy of the nomination. But I’m not going to adjust my top 10 to include it. I wonder if I’d have liked it as much if I saw the movie when it was first released in October.

If you don’t already know, Babel tells four interrelated stories that take place all over the world, and not exactly at the same time (though they’re only a day or two apart). Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett play a couple vacationing in Morocco, Oscar-nominated Rinko Kikuchi plays a deaf Japanese teenager still troubled by her mother’s death, and Oscar-nominated Adriana Barraza plays the nanny in charge of Pitt and Blanchett’s characters’ children back home in San Diego. There’s also the story of a Moroccan family, and how the actions of the two sons have tragic results.

It’s a vast canvas that director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu is working with and it all comes together well.

This is a message movie, about how people communicate with each other and how we all get along, and that concept is explored from these varied perspectives. Interestingly, and appropriately, more than 60 percent of Babel is in a foreign language.

As you’d expect, Babel is also a long movie (it’s about 2:20). And some of the stories are more engaging than others. I’d definitely have cut out a bit of the Japanese section. Conversely, I wouldn’t have minded if there was more of Pitt and Blanchett before she gets shot.

But overall, this is a very good movie and that’s why I’m giving it an A–.

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