Movie of the Day – 21 Grams
June 17, 2011 1 Comment
Everyday we all make decisions that often times seem infinitesimal to us and others. You give spare change to someone who asks, not knowing that action will carry on for that person. We say yes to helping someone more out of friendship or being nice, but that action means something different to the person who is receiving it. Our actions carry weight, whether we realize that something small as giving change, helping others, or looking out for your best interest all have an impact down the road. Innocuous actions in our daily lives all come together in the end, as life itself comes full circle, we must look back on what we do and evaluate our actions. 21 Grams is a movie that poses a question about our decisions in life. How much does our life and life of others matter. Do you mourn the loss of a child more than an adult? Do you value your life over someone else’s? 21 Grams brings together three different story lines, all tied together because of one significant event that impacts everyone’s life. All three stories, three different people, 3 different consequences.
21 Grams follows a non-linear story line, where we see the past, present and future of three different individuals, all living separate lives. Sean Penn plays Paul Rivers, who is a dying man in need of a heart transplant. He is living with his current girlfriend who wants to have a baby with Paul in hopes to have a little piece of him if he were to pass on. Naomi Watts plays Cristina Peck, who is a recovering drug addict living with her support husband two children, trying to get her life back in order. Benicio Del Toro plays Jack Jordan, a former convict who is turning his life around through religion and kicking his drug habit. All there lives changes because of one car accident that will bind them together. Jack accidentally performs a hit and run, killing Cristina’s husband and children. Paul is admitted to the hospital that evening as they have found a donor to proceed with the transplant. Cristina id’s her husband and children and agrees to donate her husbands heart to another patient (Paul). What follows is quest for answers. Paul wants to know the person who gave him the new heart and Cristina wants answers for what happened to her family. Jack is just wanting punishment and atonement.
The movie isn’t a very uplifting movie by any means. This is another drama given to us be Alejandro González Iñárritu, wo directed a similar drama called Amores Perros. 21 Grams follows a similar story structure, in that the movie jumps from story points and time, giving the viewer a fractured look at the characters lives. 21 Grams is a compelling movie which has a crushing, depressing storyline about guilt and anger. Alejandro has us questioning our own personal actions in this situation and makes it difficult for us to pick a side to sympathize with.
Both the visuals and score by Gustavo Santaolalla are beautiful to watch and listen to. Gustavo brings this gorgeous sound to the movie, adding this emotional undercurrent to the weighty decisions that our characters make. Given the broken structure of the plot and story, his music is important to keep the viewer clued into emotional tones and scene settings. I ended up purchasing the soundtrack just because the murky, sometimes vibrant sounds of Gustavo’s guitar work.
21 Grams is an interesting title for a movie. The title refers to a study done in 1907 where a Dr. Duncan MacDougall supposedly stated that he can show us proof that there is a human soul in all of us. He did this by recording the human body right before death and then after. The number varies, but 21 grams is the supposed weight difference once the body was measured after death. The scientific community dismissed this claim as the Doctor failed to follow standard scientific method testing procedures.
But the movie uses this figure as a mean to present us with the question of how much our own soul weighs. Do your actions weigh your soul down or make it lighter? Does your soul weigh more than others, in terms of value of life? The movie doesn’t answer the questions because there is none. What you see in this movie is people bound together by a tragic event and each must learn to cope with their decisions that mare their soul. How will you cope with life when tragedy strikes and how will you be viewed when judgement comes.