Review Date: September 07, 2003
Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Writer: Guillermo Arriaga
Producers: Alejandro González Iñárritu, Ted Hope, Robert Salerno
Benicio Del Toro
What it all added up to was a story that provided a behind-the-scenes view of several people dealing with the ills that life inevitably drops into our laps from time to time. How does one person deal with it versus another? Is there any right or wrong way to handle any given situation? Can you ever dismiss your past, or will it always be around the help/haunt you? What is love? Those questions and others involving destiny, fate, luck (both good and bad), redemption, courage, spirituality and human compassion are shared with you through this film, and it's really up to you to take what you want from it all. I certainly didn't bawl like I did in MY LIFE WITHOUT ME a few days earlier, but much like that film, this one re-affirmed one's need to appreciate life's delicate balance, while offering a ray of hope into our own lives, even during the most outwardly tragic circumstance, as well as the importance of love, direction and truth. Many times, the answer to our questions lies within ourselves but we're afraid to face them or our reality, choosing instead to drown ourselves in temporary states of relief like drugs, alcohol or superficial spirituality. This is a great film with superb performances that only helps elevate the material to that even mightier level. Benicio Del Toro is forgiven for his acting sprint through the generic THE HUNTED and back in top form as a man who can't seem to grasp the straight path to his own forgiveness and instead, drowns himself in spirituality. Del Toro's character is as tortured a man as I've seen in quite some time, and just can't seem to catch a break to save his life. Sean Penn is also very good, playing the character with the most physical affectations, having to deal with a crumpling body and on an emotional level, a relationship which doesn't seem to be going anywhere. But it's Naomi Watts who impressed me the most with an extremely brave showing as a woman dealing with one of the most devastating losses that could befall anyone, and doing so with a great deal of courage, depth and emotional resonance. If Ms. Watts doesn't receive an Oscar nomination for her role in this film, consider me to be a monkey's uncle.
In the end, all of the film's style and top-notch ensemble performances might not have been enough to dodge a tacky or pretentious script, but thankfully for us, we're not let down in that department either, with an authentic piece showcasing genuine human beings dealing with personal tragedies, as well as themes of redemption and hope. This is not a "happy go lucky" movie, folks...but for anyone who appreciates a film that delves deep inside the lives of characters to whom we can all relate on one level or another, and questions our own way of dealing with our own lives' most difficult of circumstances, consider this to be one of the best films that you will experience this year.