When the hype was building, I became more increasingly interested in Babel while also becoming more apprehensive. Would it be worth my wait? Would it be worth my time? After finally seeing the film, I guess the more appropriate question would have been, “would it have been worth my time if I had not heard all the hype?”.
A couple in a troubled marriage (Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett), a socially frustrated deaf Japanese teenager (Rinko Kikuchi), an out of luck nanny (Adriana Barraza), and two Moroccan youths find themselves intertwining in an elaborate web of events.
I recently commented that I’d rather listen to Gustavo Santaola’s Oscar winning score for two hours than watch this film again. That comment may seem like I’m selling the score short, when actually the score is fantastic.There were only two words that kept entering my mind during and after viewing Babel, pretentious and boring. However I have discovered that over multiple viewings, the film is like a good stew. The ingredients seem bland, unoriginal and mediocre but as you let them simmer, each distinct quality comes to fruition. The film left me with a very bad taste in my mouth at first. I would have been very quick to say it was the biggest disappointment of the year. Babel did however shine a bit brighter for me after multiple viewings.
The film at first seems to be just a series of random incidents encompassing the lives of seemingly random individuals. The story, the underlying idea of Babel, is brilliant. Where the film falters though, is character development. While the story of each character is reaching a climax, I could not find myself feeling emotion for any one of the characters. Each character is placed into a difficult situation, and each character reacts according to their own instincts. While some characters come out on top in the end, and some end up far worse than they started, I still found myself not caring very much.
With achievements in editing, directing, cinematography and score, Babel could have been much better if the film played out more to the heart and tried less to be a thought provoking culture shocker. Alejandro Gonz¡lez I±¡rritu has already built a reputation for being involved with culture bending tales that ultimately have a moral to communicate. His latest venture does not say much. It does travel different continents, break the barrier of several languages and transcend cultural differences, but it does not entertain. If you would like broaden your cultural horizons, see this film. Do not turn your attention towards Babel for entertainment.