Babel On

ongoing … still

Well, it won a Golden Globe and garnered 7 Oscar nominations. Not our first choice, or even second for best picture, but we can understand why the foreign press liked it: It was shot on three continents and employed 1,200 people. As to the Oscar voters, maybe they were saluting the sheer ambition and "we’re all interconnected" message. But you can’t call Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett the stars of "Babel," as has been implied. Yes, you find out eventually, the events that take place across the world are linked however spuriously to them. But they have minimal screen time – or at least not dominant screen time. This movie, by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, has that dislocating, discomforting feeling his "21 Grams" also had. Blanchett’s character is shot in Morocco by a young boy, challenged to shoot at a passing tour bus. The US government believe it’s an act of terrorism, not ill-conceived bravado. Other stories emerge: a deaf-dumb girl in Japan tries to cope with hormones and despair over her mother’s suicide, a Mexican nanny (without papers) takes two children over the border to keep them with her for her son’s wedding – and bad things happen. There are moments of splendor in this movie: the wide open dessert, Tokyo at night, the Mexican wedding itself. But the characters all too offen fail to communicate – hence the movie’s title – and that’s a contributing source to everybody’s travails. Inarritu bounces among these stories and our interest in each waxes and wanes. When the threads pull together, there’s an "Oh, yes" moment which is rewarding. The Japanese girl played by Rinko Kikuchi is the most heart-breaking of characters – to say more would spoil the surprise of her breakdown. It’s an unsettling, yet gorgeously photographed, movie you will leave pondering and discussing. It’s not exactly still in wide release – in fact it’s out on DVD – but it does remain on the big screen at the Somerville Theatre at 2:40, 5:30 and 8:30. Tickets: $9.

55 Davis Sq., Somerville, 617-625-5700

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