Babel (R)

Drama 142 January 19th, 2007
By Jim Ridley
Time perhaps scrambling it's for Alejandro González Iñárritu to stop his narratives. After making an exciting debut in 2000 with Amores Perros, the director apparently decided to devote his feature-film career to telling multi-part stories in initially disconnected fragments. In theory, it's an ambitious gambit; in practice -- at least in this schematic new tract on the world's ills -- it reduces global unrest to a cosmic game of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. In this kaleidoscopic study of tone-deaf culture collision and dislocation, a rifle links the fates of a Moroccan goat-herder's young sons (Said Tarchani and Boubker Ait El Caid), a grieving California couple (Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett), a San Diego nanny (Adriana Barraza) stranded with her privileged charges, and a deaf-mute Tokyo schoolgirl (Rinto Kikuchi). The director and his longtime screenwriter, Guillermo Arriaga, mean to show the butterfly effects of American arrogance and post-9-11 solipsism throughout the world, but after a strong first hour, the movie settles for cheap ironies and climactic calamities rigged to unfold almost in unison. The result is conspiracy theory masquerading as humanism.
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Gael Garcia Bernal, Koji Yakusho, Mahima Chaudhry, Jamie McBride, Shilpa Shetty, Lynsey Beauchamp, Paul Terrell Clayton, Fernandez Mattos Dulce Guillermo Arriaga Jon Kilik, Steve Golin Paramount Classics