A film about guilt, redemption, revenge, love and forgiveness.
These are weighty tags to hang on any movie, but 21 Grams is intelligently conceived by a talented Mexican director, whose debut, Amores Perros, was equally impressive. As in that film, a car accident interweaves the lives of various strangers, who, up until that moment, would never have met.
A college lecturer (Sean Penn) needs a heart transplant. His wife (Charlotte Gainsbourg) wants a baby and more commitment than he may be prepared to give. Cristina (Naomi Watts) has a loving husband (Danny Huston) and two beautiful daughters and is the older sister of Claudia (Clea DuVall). In another household, an ex-con (Benicio Del Toro) and his wife struggle to bring up their children. He has turned to religion in an effort to find a way to a better life. But their destiny and their futures are about to change forever.
Courageously shuffling flashforwards and flashbacks, a story evolves that is deeply involving. Director Alejandro Inárritu gives the actors full reign to demonstrate their conviction, as they respond to tragic and extreme circumstances, which are both explosive and heartbreaking. With such a marvellous screenplay from Guillermo Arriaga and the assured Inárritu at the helm, this is never less than convincing.
Watts, Del Toro and Penn give exceptional performances and, therefore, it was no surprise that at the Venice Film Festival 2003, Penn picked up Best Actor and Del Toro and Watts won audience awards.
21 Grams may not contain many laughs, but you won't even notice, because this is a gripping drama that is strong from start to finish.