Movie Review: Babel

By Moira Sullivan
Movie Magazine International
Babel directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu is one of the most compelling films to date. The director stunned the world with a short piece made in the compilation film entitled 9/11. His new film is based on three threads set in Japan Mexico and Morocco The harsh regulations after 9/11 and US border patrol in Mexico are background to the three tales.

Susan (Cate Blanchette) is with her husband Richard (Brad Pitt) on a trip in Morrocco. We suspect he has abandoned her and been unfaithful. Meanwhile their children are being cared for by an illegal immigrant from Mexico, Amelia, Adriana Barraza who cant find anyone to take care of the children for her son’s wedding. So they all pile in the car for the journey from San Diego to Mexico. The party turns out wonderfully but ends in a bit too much drinking and an escape from the border patrol by Amelia’s drunken nephew Santiago placed by Gael García Bernal. Amelia has been in the USA for 15 years.

Back to Morocco, what looks like a terrorist situation is not that at all. Two young kids decide to shoot at rocks and then a bus to see how far the bullets will reach. Their young lives seem uneventful save for the glimpses of their sister while she dresses. In a tragedy that makes the evening news Susan is shot. There is no doctor on hand but the care that a poor Moroccan villager gives her is far more than the support from scared European passengers on the tour bus that Susan and Richard share. The Moroccans stick by Susan, just as the Mexican caretaker does for Susan and Richard’s children. Do the government authorities know about that kind of compassion and loyalty? These watchdogs on duty to enforce the law seem to punish the innocent in a dog eat dog world.

Iñárritu develops the theme further with an intersecting story a young Japanese girl who is mute and who has lost her mother. In some of the best filmic scenes of the film her world as a mute girl is vividly portrayed. Chieko is in search of affection and is not particularly careful of who she chooses and seems almost at the brink of emotional starvation. She throws herself at young men and even at a police officer that wants to know if her fathers hunting rifle wound up in the Moroccan village in the hands of the young boys.

Yes our lives are intertwined and this films shows it is not necessarily through cell phones or the Internet or mass media, though these interfaces have room too in the tale. Our lives are connected because we are desperately looking for human connection, for meaning. We are carefree and our accidents have consequences, grave ones, we want to attend rituals for our families that end up in personal disaster. How do we treasure our loved ones? Why is there so much unintentional pain when we long for meaningful human companionship? We have so much to offer one another all over the world. That seems to be the greatest message of this film.

More Information:
France/USA/Mexico - 2006