I love films with several unrelated storylines that all converge on a single moment. I love the use of nonlinear storytelling to create perspective-altering twists. I love films by Alejandro González Iñárritu. Based on my taste in movies, I should have loved “Babel.” So why did I give it such a low rating? Because it just wasn’t that good. In spite of its long list of award nominations, it won very few of these awards. The nominations are a reflection of the weaknesses of every other film in 2006 rather than a reflection of “Babel’s” quality. I especially do not feel the film was worthy of its Oscar for Best Original Score, but this once again reflects the weakness of films in 2006. The one worthy nomination from this film is Adriana Barraza for Best Supporting Actress. This category generally seeks a moment where an actor’s emotional moment cuts through the screen and feels completely real, even if their character is only in the film for 7 minutes (i.e. Anne Hathaway in “Les Mis”). Barraza’s desert sequence was the most emotionally engaging part of the film. On the flip side, Rinko Kikuchi was completely undeserving of an Oscar nomination. Successful portrayals of disabled characters deserve to be acknowledged (Daniel Day-Lewis in “My Left Foot,” Dustin Hoffman in “Rain Man,”), but Kikuchi’s character left so much room for emotion that went unfulfilled. I question whether this nomination was an acknowledgement of her willingness to display grotesque nudity because the acting was not deserving. Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett had some nice moments but not enough to create an emotional attachment. One success of the film is its ability to transition between stories without feeling disjointed. It has a nice flow that helps us to understand each individual story and how they work together as a whole. I continue to struggle with the Japanese portion of the film which has the weakest relationship to the tie-in event, especially since the Kikuchi’s character is completely unrelated. I see the merit in exploring her character but it doesn’t fit in with the rest of the film. “Babel” is an interesting story of how a single event can create ripples across the world. Its thesis is strong but once you see it on screen, it just feels like watching a bunch of depressed characters trying to get through to the end of the film.
[Pictured: These boys are the best part of the film but their characters are barely explored. If we could have seen more of their story and less of Kikuchi's, the film would be much better.]