Babel – a movie review

I went to see Babel (IMDB database) last night with a friend, the latest Paramount movie starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett and it was an interesting political thriller that traces a fascinating path through the narrative.  The story itself is fairly simple, but its rather difficult to talk about any details of the plot without revealing key points in the movie.

In many ways, the structure of Babel is very similar to the structure of Pulp Fiction.  The narrative meanders through a variety of scenes, and we see the same events through a variety of eyes.  With characters as diverse as the deaf-mute daughter of a Japanese industrialist, a peasant family in an unnamed middle-eastern nation, a wealthy American couple and a Mexican nanny in San Diego, one of the things that distinguishes the method of Babel from Pulp Fiction is the depth and breadth of back story.  While Babel does resolve itself to a very interesting and complete story at the end of 142 minutes of film, the various paths it takes to its destination are very widely spread and often tangential to the main point.

Its probably not for everyone.  Its not an action film by any stretch of imagination, and 8 or 10 teens that were sitting behind us left about 30 minutes into the film.  Its quite possible they were in the wrong film (I think they may have been looking for Borat, which means they were REALLY in the wrong room), but I suspect that there are people out there who will be a bit bored by the pacing, or possibly confused by the meandering presentation of the plot … it was well over half way through the movie before I started to figure out how one of the threads fit into the garment.  For me, that was part of the fun, but I can see how that might be tedious for others.

In the end, if you enjoy stories that are told in an unusual way, Babel will appeal to you.  It’s a very good love story, and one of the things I found interesting was the way the political intrigue was largely a back story.  It’s definitely worth a look if you enjoy innovative story-telling.

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