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(Review originally written at 10 May 2007)

This is what happens when you receive nothing but praise as a director; you get sloppy and think you can get away with just everything. Having loved his previous movie I must say that Alejandro González Iñárritu really overdid it this time. The different plot lines don't feel connected and the events in the movie just not interesting enough, since they seem to be without a point. In the end the movie makes nothing more than a totally pointless impression. The movie has no message, so is there any reason to still watch this movie?

Well, of course there is. There is nothing wrong with the actual directing style of Alejandro González Iñárritu in this movie but there is all the more wrong with the story. It's like they didn't even put enough effort in it and where thinking no matter what we are going to tell, this movie is going to be considered another brilliant one and will be in the race for many big awards, which it also was. It's like movie making completely on the automatic pilot.

Just like we are used from a Alejandro González Iñárritu, the movie is told with many different plots in different settings with people in it that are all somehow connected. Problem with this movie really is that all of the plot lines are connected in a too simplistic and thin way. The movie just doesn't always feel as one whole, which is probably also due to the settings of the movie; America/Mexico, Morroco and Japan. 3/4 totally different settings over the world with 2/3 totally different characters, atmosphere and style.

Quite frankly I don't understand why they picked Morocco as a setting for the movie. I think that this movie gives a wrong images of the country, as being a dangerous, terrorist filled country, where the police shoots without questions on children and beat up old persons, while in fact Morocco, compared to other African countries is far more advanced and also a far more stable country. Why didn't they picked any random middle-eastern country? It would had made the story far more believable and also more easy to buy for the viewers. And then there is the Japanese storyline. Well, well, well, what can I say...was it truly necessary? The way it's connected to the other story lines of the movie is incredibly thin and why does it have to focus on a sexual frustrated deaf Japanese teenager? Is it interesting? Is it engaging? Sorry, I really don't think so. The movie would had been probably been better off without it.

The movie did well at the Oscars and was favorite for the big wins to many. Eventually it only won one Oscar for the best original score, by Gustavo Santaolalla, for his guitar plucking. It sort of makes me mad and shows that there is something wrong with the way the Academy votes for best original score, that over the past decade or so, mostly simplistic subtle scores have won the Oscar, instead of orchestrated musical scores. Bernard Hermann, Michael Kamen Jerry Goldsmith, Elmer Bernstein, Basil Poledoouris all won one or none Oscar's in their life, Gustavo Santaolalla already has two...does this seem right and fair to you?

Like we are used to from Alejandro González Iñárritu, the movie is filled with some big stars. However none of them is really ever given the opportunity to shine and makes you wonder if this movie wouldn't had been just as good/bad with different unknown actors in it. This was the role Brad Pitt skipped a part in "The Departed" for? It really wasn't his smartest career move and I just love the way how they tried to make him look like Benicio Del Toro in this movie. Sarcasm alert! The chemistry between him and Cate Blanchett was also a bit off. The only performance I really liked in the movie were from Gael García Bernal and Kôji Yakusho. It just isn't a movie that tries to shine with its actors, it's a movie that tries to shine with its story and storytelling and the realism of it all. In this case it didn't really worked out.

The movie in the end feels like a pointless one, that with a couple of sequences, mainly with explicit sexual content in it, tries to provoke. I just couldn't care less about it all. Apparently the overall message of the movie was supposed to be that people in and from different countries don't communicate well enough. Well let me tell you, I'm a sort of a communication student and I certainly didn't picked up this message from this movie. So please try harder next time Mr. Alejandro González Iñárritu and Guillermo Arriaga.

Yes of course the movie is still better than the average one and of course there are more than enough elements present in this movie to make it worthwhile. I just hope that Alejandro González Iñárritu next project will be more original in its approach and will have a better and more connected script. I'm still a fan!

6/10

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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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