Babel
R
Entertainment: +1
Acceptability: -4

Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Gael Garcia Bernal, Koji Yakusho, Elle Fanning. Written by Guillermo Arriaga. Directed by Alejandro Gonzlez Irritu.

FILM SYNOPSIS: Armed with a Winchester rifle, two Moroccan boys set out to look after their familys herd of goats. In the silent echoes of the desert, they decide to test the rifle but the bullet goes farther than they thought it would, hitting an American vacationer. In an instant, the lives of four separate groups of strangers on three different continents collide. Caught up in the rising tide of an accident that escalates beyond anyones control are a vacationing American couple (Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett), a rebellious deaf Japanese teenager and her father, and a Mexican nanny who, without permission, takes two American children across the border. None of these strangers will ever meet; in spite of the sudden, unlikely connection between them, they will all remain isolated due to their own inability to communicate meaningfully with anyone around them.

From Alejandro Gonzlez Irritu comes a film that is at once intimate and epic, shot in four countries, cast with actors and non-actors, and concludes his trilogy that started with Amores Perros and 21 Grams.

PREVIEW REVIEW: Babel: A place or scene of noise and confusion. That only partly describes the movie with that title. Its also long, violent, pornographic and excessive. A nonlinear film that goes back and forth and interweaves between what appears to be four separate stories until we realize that the storylines interconnect (like the film Crash), only the connection is vague and unsatisfying as is the storys moral.

Intense and well acted, but I have two major problems with this film. One is technical. We are living in the era of the headache inducing unsteady steady cam (a hand held camera). This photographing technique was once used to cause tension, to make the action appear more intimate, more passionate. And it was done sparingly. Now the gimmicky use of a moveable camera is featured in nearly every film, and in this film, nearly every scene. Its cheaper and quicker to use and cinematographers dont have to lug around a tripod, but too often it is applied in order to brandish a style.

Second problem. Everything from the strained pacing to the violence to the sexually explicit content is extreme. There are many objectionables in this film (please read the content), but I found the depiction of a sexually provocative teenager most disturbing. One of the storylines concerns a 16-or 17-year-old dysfunctional Japanese girl trying to cope with her mothers suicide and the seeming indifference of her father. Looking for love in all the wrong places, the girl wears an abbreviated schoolgirl uniform no school would ever allow, one that barely covers her bottom. And if this isnt titillating enough, there are a couple of scenes where the girl removes her panties, allowing us to see as much as you would in a porno movie. She then makes blatant passes at her dentist, a cop and every other male she has spent five minutes with. She gets stoned and takes off all her clothes, not once, but several times (several full-frontal nude shots). Whats the difference between an X-rated movie and this one? Beats me. Laws forbid the sexual exploitation of underage children in the making of sex films. But in a big studio release, the same imagery can be featured under the guise of dramatic narrative.

Lest my description be temping to those challenged by such sexual depictions, please keep in mind that we are bombarded by sexuality in our culture. But if you refuse to attend movies containing lurid material, it will honor God and the women in your life. Now, I do not wish to come across as hypocritical concerning this subject. Theres no one who appreciates the female form more than I. And its not always with just art appreciation that I look. As I grow in my relationship with the Lord, however, I seek to please Him and follow biblical instructions. Jesus said to love God and to love our fellow man (and woman). Though gazing (or lusting) at a provocatively dressed young woman is consistent with the natural mans makeup, and most likely satisfying to the lookee as well, it really isnt an application of love for that person. We cant always be good, but we should keep trying. You listening, Phil?

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Distributor: Paramount

Summary
Crude Language: None.
Obscene Language: 10 obscenities, mostly the f-word and mostly from Brad Pitt who with a limited vocabulary uses the word to express frustration over and over.
Profanity: 2 misuses of Christs name.
Violence: A woman is shot by a sniper, a boy is shot by foreign police, others are shot at. A boy is slapped. In a graphic scene, we see a chicken get his head torn off, the creature then moving about until it falls dead. Blood: Lots of blood as the woman clings to life. We see her wound being stitched up in a graphic scene.
Sexual Intercourse: One of the storylines concerns a 16 or 17-year-old dysfunctional Japanese girl trying to cope with her mothers suicide and the seeming indifference of her father. Looking for love in all the wrong places, the girl wears an abbreviated pleated skirt that barely covers her private region. She makes blatant passes at her dentist, a cop and every other male she has spent five minutes with. She removes her panties and flashes herself for effect. She gets stoned and takes off all her clothes, not once, but several times (several full-frontal nude shots). We see a boy masturbate after spying on his disrobing older sister.
Nudity: Though the actress is of age, she is playing an underaged girl. We see her in full nudity.
Homosexual Conduct: None.
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: Teens refer to the sex act several times.
Drug Abuse: Some drinking. Teens gets stoned.
Other: None
Running Time: 142 minutes
Intended Audience: Adults

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