starring Sean Penn, Naomi Watts, Benicio Del Toro, Charlotte Gainsbourg
screenplay by Guillermo Arriaga
directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu
by Bill Chambers Alejandro González Iñárritu's Amores Perros was the first film in the wake of Pulp Fiction to wallow in criminal behaviour and monkey with chronology that still managed to stake its own cinematic claim (not the least of which, inaugurating the Mexican New Wave) far removed from the squatters in Tarantinoland, and if I found its fatalism terribly endearing, I realize now that I also derived a lot of pleasure from its trip-hop vibe, which served a function as the film's levity. To its great detriment, 21 Grams has no sense of humour: Iñárritu seeks to depress you with his English-language sophomore effort by weaving a tapestry of dejection and sorrow, but unless the sun breaks through the clouds once in a while, how can we lament it? That Iñárritu dismisses the human process of adaptation in examining the aftermath of a fatal car accident is only half the problem: he underestimates the swiftness with which an audience grows acclimated and eventually impervious to suffering, too.