Babel is the third offering from director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu in his ‘Death’ trilogy, following Amores Perros and 21 Grams. Being a big fan of 21 Grams I was looking forward to watching Babel and had high expectations due to the amount of critical acclaim it received back upon its release.

Babel tells the stories of four different families in three different continents who are all connected by one tragic incident. But as much as Babel is about these families and their stories the stories take a back seat in order for Inarritu and scriptwriter Guillermo Arriaga to develop and explore pivotal themes in human life such as death, communication and family. It is a good job really because I felt that none of the stories were really strong enough to stand up by themselves and all supported one another significantly. However, the story that takes place in Japan is a little less connected to the others and, despite arguably being the most interesting of the four stories, has little bearing on the film as a whole.

As well as the deep themes being explored it is also the terrific acting that makes Babel worth the watch. Brad Pitt is not a name associated with the phrase ‘terrific acting’; yes he is a bankable name and yes he is world famous but he’s never been the best actor around but Babel sees Pitt put in a really emotional performance and is definitely one of his best to date. The real stand out performance for me was, again, in the Japanese story. Rinku Kikuchi as Chieko Wataya, a deaf-mute Japanese schoolgirl, is incredible. This is genuinely one of the best performances I think that I have ever seen, it is so compelling and just layered with intrigue that it is not a performance soon forgotten. It’s a whole international effort with stellar performances coming from actors and actresses of all nationalities including Adriana Barazza, Elle Fanning, Mohamed Akhzam and Gael Garcia Bernal. But any Cate Blanchett fans thinking of watching Babel I probably wouldn’t bother. She is on the front of the DVD case and her name is one of the most well known of the cast but she is barely in it and after her first scene she barely even speaks or moves.

As you might well expect the direction from Inarritu is flawless. Babel is not one of the strongest films I have ever seen but it is up there with the most beautiful. Inarritu clearly has a talent for his craft and this is nothing less than perfection in his directing of the film. Every single shot is well thought out and every single detail is covered. It is his performance as director that makes Babel what it is.

For all of it’s good points, as I mentioned earlier none of the stories are really that strong. It is hard to gain an emotional connection to any of the characters when you are being flown across the globe and back again to get all of these different stories flying at you. And for all the good acting and brilliant directing that is something that I could not look past. The writing needed to make the characters easier to connect with for the audience.

My Rating: 6/10.

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