With the flip-flopping nature of the narrative it is unfair to discuss even the most basic elements of plot, so I will only mention the three principals before moving on.
Jack (Benicio Del Toro) is an intense and deeply religious family man with a past.
Christine (Naomi Watts) is a happily married woman with two young daughters.
Paul (Sean Penn) is a deathly sick man in need of a heart transplant, with a wife desperate for a child.
Some of these things are addressed or changed throughout the back and firths that occur in the film. The one thing that does not change is the somber tone, which starts somber and ends with despair. Even the happiest moments in the film will have you looking for a straight razor.
Penn, Watts and Del Toro are all typically excellent in universally challenging and draining roles. Melissa Leo also appears as a wife torn between her happiness and the wellbeing of her family structure.
21 Grams might be a fine achievement and an especially competent film, but I defy anyone to say that they watch this for enjoyment. I can admire the tone, the acting and the editing (without which we would be left with a fairly dull storyline), but for mine this film is two hours of deliberately sitting stoically while someone trims your fingernails to the quick and beyond.
Slowly and with no expression.
Final Rating – 7.5 / 10. Style points aplenty, but a depressing film from start to finish. Have at it emo-cinephiles…