You missed me, admit it. But I’ve been busy digging out from a snowstorm that stole our power for 12 hours and recovering from some blasted croupy-cough thing. When the lights finally came back, I learned about the tragedy at Virginia Tech. Ironically, the feeling foremost in my mind and today’s blog post focus are the same: compassion.
I finally watched Babel this weekend. I’d been reluctant to after hearing blah reports about the film from others, and then the Netflix cover started gathering dust; I had to either see it or return it unseen–something I hate doing. I reminded myself that Babel garnered some impressive nods and made myself watch it. I’m glad I did.
Babel is a thinking movie; you’ll be mulling over plot points and characterizations for days. And you’ll be wondering how screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga and director Alejandro González Iñárritu did it–how they made you care about their characters: Moroccan children who shoot at a tourist bus; a mute-deaf Japanese girl who tries to get her dentist to feel her up; an icy American wife whose behavior toward her husband seems borderline-cruel; an illegal-alien nanny who takes two children into Mexico without their parents’ consent and later leaves them alone, scared, dehydrated in the desert.
How the creators did it isn’t such a mystery though; they succeeded by making their jaded characters fully textured, real-seeming, and far more than the sum of their bad-karma moments. It’s something Hollywood seems particularly good at, making us love the anti-hero. Maybe it’s because a good actor can communicate layers of complex meaning with a single glance. The actors of Babel were certainly of the finest caliber, and by film’s end I was loving nearly all the characters, despite their appallingly poor judgment and neuroses.
A little more about the film’s basis: [Read more…]