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Review: Babel

I wasn't exactly Miss Enthusiastic about seeing this film, but I did in fact enjoy it very much. The sound and visuals are fantastic and there are some scenes where you almost forget the story as you are just blown away by the viewing experience. My particular favourite was one in a Japanese club which really made me feel like I was actually there and more than ever I was desperate to visit Japan. The story is an interesting one, with a strange structure which isn't quite in chronological order but shows the same event from different perspectives. The film as a whole is connected by the running theme of understanding and communication between languages and cultures - sometimes achieved but more often not.

There are four simultaneous stories: the Moroccan kids who semi-accidentally shoot a bus, Brad Pitt and his wife (Cate Blanchett), who happens to be the one who gets shot, their kids who are having a drama of their own in Mexico (with the lovely Gael Garcia Bernal), and far off in Tokyo we meet a deaf teenage girl and wonder how she could be linked to the other stories - of course she is and all is revealed at the end of the film, although I warn you the link is quite tenuous.

Babel is a strange halfway point between blockbuster and foreign/arthouse. Each plotline could be a film in itself, ranging from the political drama in Morocco to the coming of age story in Japan, and cutting between them adds both some light relief for times when it gets a bit too heavy, and at other times extra suspense as we wait to return to the most dramatic storylines to find out what happens next. At many points a life hangs in the balance, but each story is compelling enough that I didn't find myself anxious to return to any particular one, although my favourite was that of Chieko in Japan.

Babel has already won a Golden Globe, and despite splitting opinion with some film critics, I'm sure it will continue to do very well in the other award shows of 2007. While it didn't make the impression on me that my favourite low-budget cutesy films do, I really enjoyed Babel and I would certainly watch it again, despite its immense length, if only because there was so much to take in, and of course to see that amazing Japanese club scene again, which was one of the best cinematic experiences I have ever had. Definitely recommended!