ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
21 Grams disturbs with vehicular manslaughter, drug
Starring: Sean Penn, Benicio Del Toro, Naomi Watts
Directed by: Alejandro González Iñárritu
By Arthur Thuot
Stoners beware: 21 Grams is not what you think. There are no pot jokes or
intoxicated antics, and only minimal episodes of hilarious debauchery.
Director Alejandro González Iñárritu tells a complex
tale of three characters brought together by a bizarre series of events. Paul
(Penn) is a terminally ill mathematics professor in dire need of a heart transplant.
As luck would have it, ex-convict turned Bible-banging, born-again Christian
Jack (Del Toro) drives his ironically named “Jesus Saves” truck
into Cristina’s (Watts) husband and two young children, killing them.
Praise the Lord: Paul’s heart troubles are solved!
Paul undergoes transplant surgery using Cristina’s newly deceased husband’s
heart, and besides the whole vehicular manslaughter inconvenience, everything
is hunky dory. That is, until Paul’s doctor refuses to divulge the identity
of the donor, compelling him to dig deeper and find out whose heart he received.
Things get freaky at this point in the movie.
Paul hires a private investigator to research the organ donor’s history.
Armed with the necessary information, Paul tracks down Cristina, going against
the commonly held Miss Manners rule of etiquette stipulating a two-month, post-surgery
One thing leads to another and before you know it they’ve met, become
friends and then quite a bit more than friends. It is slightly disconcerting
to see a woman having sexual intercourse with a man who is the recipient of
her dead husband’s heart.
When 21 Grams isn’t directly involved with the wacky adventures of Paul
and Cristina, it presents many related stories. Jack spends a few years in
jail and questions his faith in God; Paul deals with his artificial insemination-happy
girlfriend Mary (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and after many years of sobriety, Cristina
rediscovers the joys of drug abuse. All of these parallel plots are woven together
exceptionally well for a film assembled in an initially confusing way.
21 Grams is shot in a non-linear style, which means the scenes are mainly
out of order. It helps to pay attention at the start when the scenes are brief
and completely out of sequence, but despite the complex and unorthodox delivery,
the story is surprisingly easy to follow. Furthermore, the excellent performances
by Penn, Del Toro and Watts make following the story an effort worth taking.
Fans of an unconventional plot and solid acting will be pleased with 21 Grams,
and fans of Watts and her gigantic rock hard nipples will leave the theatre
smiling, possibly with a boner.