Focus Features | Release Date: November 21, 2003
8.0
USER SCORE
Generally favorable reviews based on 210 Ratings
USER RATING DISTRIBUTION
Positive:
176
Mixed:
21
Negative:
13
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7
ryancarroll88Aug 29, 2010
Between "Amores Perros," "Babel" and this movie, Gonzalez Inarritu has produced some of the heaviest dramas of the past 10 years. Perhaps it is because they all deal with such shattered characters - in this case we are given a man who hasBetween "Amores Perros," "Babel" and this movie, Gonzalez Inarritu has produced some of the heaviest dramas of the past 10 years. Perhaps it is because they all deal with such shattered characters - in this case we are given a man who has just undergone heart replacement surgery which temporarily alleviates the strain ...between him and his separated wife, a born-again man who suddenly finds himself responsible for running over and killing a husband and two girls and the woman who has lost her whole family in that car accident. Each of these characters are faced with the idea of moving on with their lives; as we watch them adjust, we see that the difficulty isn't overcoming the past - it's the realization that they don't even understand what their lives are anymore. The serious performances from the three leads (Sean Penn, Benicio del Toro and Naomi Watts) are really what give the film its depth, and even make up for Inarritu's completely unnecessary nonlinear style, which seems to serve no purpose other than to make the viewer pay more attention. Expand
2 of 2 users found this helpful20
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9
MaggieM.Jun 29, 2004
Beautiful, dark, and superbly acted. My only problem was the abrupt ending.
1 of 1 users found this helpful
10
KyleA.Jan 31, 2004
I STRONGLY suggest that anyone who wishes to see this film first rent Inarritu's other great film, Amores Perros. The plot-sequencing of that film will help to prepare you for this incredible drama. If you can make it through the first I STRONGLY suggest that anyone who wishes to see this film first rent Inarritu's other great film, Amores Perros. The plot-sequencing of that film will help to prepare you for this incredible drama. If you can make it through the first slightly-confusing hour of this film, it's worth it, because the payoff is incredible. The plotline, if played in true chronological order, would be excellent in itself, but the fact that Inarritu completely slaughtered the sequence, except for the last 20 minutes or so, makes it all the more enthralling and irresistable. The director makes it so that every other scene is climactic, slowly leading up to the ultimate climax when the characters finally realize themselves. The acting in this film was incredible. Naomi watts gives her best performance yet as a damaged woman recovering from the death of her husband and two daughters. Sean Penn and Benicio del Toro also act terrifically as their relationships with their women slowly dissintegrate over time. As in Amores Perros, all of the characters are in some way related, but their relations to one another are not revealed until the later scenes of the film, just before the climax. This is a MUST-SEE film with excellent plot-structure, acting, and cinematography. Expand
1 of 1 users found this helpful
10
TonyB.Jan 4, 2004
One of the best movies I've seen in a while, should definitely win some Oscars.
1 of 1 users found this helpful
8
MarcK.Jan 7, 2004
Unlike Memento, I think the non-linear structure worked here (although a different non-linear structure than Memento), and I liked it very much. Strong performances by Watts and Penn, with Del Toro perhaps getting a Supporting Actor Unlike Memento, I think the non-linear structure worked here (although a different non-linear structure than Memento), and I liked it very much. Strong performances by Watts and Penn, with Del Toro perhaps getting a Supporting Actor nomination. My major quibble with this film was that I think it ran about 15-20 minutes too long at the end, and should have been tightened up. Also, I figured out one of the final plot twists, based on the non-linear structure, so when we finally saw it play out, it had no impact on me. Expand
1 of 1 users found this helpful
10
StuartQ.Dec 1, 2003
A great film! After seeing MYSTIC RIVER, I thought that was Sean Penn at his best. but he may even surpass that performance here in 21 Grams. Naomi Watts does it again. And Benicio Del Toro may be the best in a movie full or outstanding lead A great film! After seeing MYSTIC RIVER, I thought that was Sean Penn at his best. but he may even surpass that performance here in 21 Grams. Naomi Watts does it again. And Benicio Del Toro may be the best in a movie full or outstanding lead and supporting performances. Expand
1 of 1 users found this helpful
9
FernandoA.Mar 18, 2004
Excellent movie; however, check out Amores Perros from the same director. It is even better!
1 of 1 users found this helpful
9
lewisNov 20, 2007
My favorite movie , great picture, awesome acting , it shows the sad reality of life and the struggle for a better one after we fall.
0 of 0 users found this helpful
10
LeviS.Jan 22, 2009
Easaly one of the best drama movies I've seen to date. The non-lineair structure makes it unique and keeps you focused on the movie, the story is very dark and emotional, but it doesn't exceed the limits of what's good and the Easaly one of the best drama movies I've seen to date. The non-lineair structure makes it unique and keeps you focused on the movie, the story is very dark and emotional, but it doesn't exceed the limits of what's good and the visuals of this movie are just stunning,it looks like Iñárritu carefully selected the lightning, background, clothing of the actors and camera type, to optimise the colors, brightness and contrast, which makes it truly a piece of visual poetry. Expand
0 of 0 users found this helpful
7
AmurabiM.Jun 23, 2006
Sordid, grim, powerful and sad. That´s what "21 Grams" is. A story of grieving, fault, guilt and redemprtion. Guileermo Arriaga´s script feels a little bit overwrought and forced, there are so much misery in this world, that you Sordid, grim, powerful and sad. That´s what "21 Grams" is. A story of grieving, fault, guilt and redemprtion. Guileermo Arriaga´s script feels a little bit overwrought and forced, there are so much misery in this world, that you can feel depressed and miserable. His fragmented narrative tris to be an existential puzzle, full of spirituality but that interpretation loses weight because that fragmentation. Alejandro González Iñárritu is an ambitious director; he can do whatever he wants because he has a personal style. His collaboration with Arriaga is prolific but it feels a little bit pretentious. "21 Grams" is, above all, a great work of actors. They can manage the lacks of the writing, doing a terrific performance. "21 Grams" worth as a work of a team; as cinematographic value, the movie is a regular fall season movie. Expand
0 of 0 users found this helpful
9
jwAug 11, 2007
(9.5) Naomi Watts did not win the Oscar that year. An uglified Charlize Theron did instead. Forgetting the last two presidential elections, this may be the worst voting result in history. ...Penn and del Toro aren't exactly slouches (9.5) Naomi Watts did not win the Oscar that year. An uglified Charlize Theron did instead. Forgetting the last two presidential elections, this may be the worst voting result in history. ...Penn and del Toro aren't exactly slouches either, are they? Their bookending performances only serve to highlight the travesty. One cannot shine so brightly in their company and not come away with a statue. Expand
0 of 0 users found this helpful
10
EvanM.Dec 14, 2003
This film is the reason why we go to the movies. To get involved with the characters and in the story. With outstanding direction and acting, this film is truely an independent film landmark.
0 of 0 users found this helpful
10
HYCDec 30, 2003
A must see.
0 of 0 users found this helpful
9
GunterP.Nov 1, 2004
Maybe the best movie from last year.
0 of 0 users found this helpful
10
JayS.Nov 9, 2004
Brilliant and earthshattering. If this didn't win best picture and Watts best actress for this, there's no justice. Toro and Penn are pitch perfect. The best movie I've seen in 3 years.
0 of 0 users found this helpful
10
TySAug 29, 2004
The most amazing film I have seen in ages. As a reviewer put it best when he said "you can taste it ". SUPERB !!!
0 of 0 users found this helpful
10
JedG.Jul 15, 2004
Excellent.
0 of 0 users found this helpful
7
BitBurnMay 23, 2004
Deep & depressing...in a good way!
0 of 0 users found this helpful
7
GinoE.Jun 5, 2004
It starts like a complete mess, but after a while it starts to make sence. Never I've seen so many short scenes switch from time to time. Not everyone will understand this movie and I can't blame them. Mr. Arriaga really tryed to It starts like a complete mess, but after a while it starts to make sence. Never I've seen so many short scenes switch from time to time. Not everyone will understand this movie and I can't blame them. Mr. Arriaga really tryed to make it as complex as possible. The performances are great! No doubt about it, but the wole leaves you in a very depressed state. And somewhere deep inside you know that you would have felt much better if you didn't watch it. But if you really need to depress yourself, and none of your friends and relatives are up for the job...this is the one! Collapse
0 of 0 users found this helpful
10
SteveY.May 30, 2004
After reading the reviews from the "professionals" and then the reviews of the "amateurs" (I obviously am in that group), I find it hard to believe that anyone would have walked away from that movie without realizing the realities of life After reading the reviews from the "professionals" and then the reviews of the "amateurs" (I obviously am in that group), I find it hard to believe that anyone would have walked away from that movie without realizing the realities of life that occur everday. I don't know the director (had never even heard of him or his work until this film)... but this film is reality regardless of how detached some may have felt the characters were from a true personality. Admittedly, we weren't given enough about Penn's character's background nor Watts's, however the events that surround them are very real and I think that is what the true meaning of this movie was. I suffer from CHF (heart failure myself at the age of 33). I have a 5 year old daughter that I absolutely adore and I love my wife. Jesus, the events of that movie could become my life at any given moment with the right order of events occuring. My point is simply... it was real. It was also depressing and I cried and it moved me deeply but not because I can relate to Penn's character having heart disease... but because of the death of the little girls. And del Toro's performance was absolutely stunning because there are people that no matter how hard they try everything they touch turns to shit. I've often thought of what I would do if my wife or child were taken from me and 21 Grams made me confront those thoughts again, however it also showed me what the other side of the coin could possibly look like through del Toro's character. Anyone, professional or amateur who didn't "get" that movie or found that the timeline was confusing needs to either experience life for a few more years and revisit this film or for the old timers who didn't like it, they should put down their cup of coffee, get a good night's rest and try watching it again and try paying close attention to it the second time... it was a movie that demanded equal attention from your brain and your heart equally. The events within 21 Grams could happen to anyone in an instant. This was simply a brilliant movie as heartbreaking as it was for me on a personal level. It was a tragedy in its truest form and an artistic masterpiece reflective of human kind's collective soul. Expand
0 of 0 users found this helpful
10
TylerC.Mar 17, 2004
This movie had everything! It had a lot of drama mixed with what 21 grams actually meant. It also had Naomi Watts beautiful breasts. How lucky Sean Penn is!! He sucked on her breasts!!
0 of 0 users found this helpful
10
AndyHernaD.Nov 24, 2003
You must see the Movie.
0 of 0 users found this helpful
9
JerryH.Nov 4, 2003
This is a brilliant film. Thank you to all involved. The actors should win awards, the writer should win awards, the director should win awards, just amazing. I hesitate to give it a 10 only because I feel that when I see it again, I'll This is a brilliant film. Thank you to all involved. The actors should win awards, the writer should win awards, the director should win awards, just amazing. I hesitate to give it a 10 only because I feel that when I see it again, I'll like it even more and then give it a 10. This film has amazing poetry and soul. Don't get caught up in the whole 21 grams debate, just watch this story of people broken but still hopeful, dead but still alive. Expand
0 of 0 users found this helpful
10
WilliamM.Oct 31, 2003
A stunning film. I found mself thinking about Guillermo Arriaga's screenplay for hours after the screening. The story is not told in a linear fashion, but rather in a style which reveals temporal slices of the plot in initially jarring A stunning film. I found mself thinking about Guillermo Arriaga's screenplay for hours after the screening. The story is not told in a linear fashion, but rather in a style which reveals temporal slices of the plot in initially jarring ways, but ways which eventually enrich and enhance the overall narrative. It makes you confront the notions of death, sorry, religion, life, and hope in a thought-provoking way. The three lead actors, incidentally, deliver phenomenal performances. If Naomi Watts & Benicio aren't nominated for Oscars.... I was also extremely pleased to see Melissa Leo ("Homicide") playing Benicio's wife. What an excellent actor. Expand
0 of 0 users found this helpful
10
MissyNov 24, 2003
This movie is superb! No question about it. Ranging from acting, to editing, cinematography, and music...everything is incredible! It's the darkest drama I've seen this year. You won't come out unaffected.
0 of 0 users found this helpful
9
BradleeJ.Nov 26, 2003
A truly exhilarating film! I'm still pondering certain plot angles hours after the screening, and few movies can boast the kind of character depth and introspection that this one does. I can see Oscar consideration for all categories, A truly exhilarating film! I'm still pondering certain plot angles hours after the screening, and few movies can boast the kind of character depth and introspection that this one does. I can see Oscar consideration for all categories, with Naomi Watts easily at the front of the Best actress pack. Where I wanted the frantic scene pacing to settle down, it tightened up neatly and mostly to satisfaction. I could start to quibble over a couple of untied strings, but really, this is very close to screen perfection! Expand
0 of 0 users found this helpful
10
PrestonF.Jan 5, 2004
A wonderfully sad film!
0 of 0 users found this helpful
8
WAKOJAKOJan 14, 2004
If you're looking for a great Sean Penn performance this season, this is the one. Superb performances all-around (not that Oscar will notice, of course) but an amazing experience. Some will find the editing a bit daunting, but I found If you're looking for a great Sean Penn performance this season, this is the one. Superb performances all-around (not that Oscar will notice, of course) but an amazing experience. Some will find the editing a bit daunting, but I found it fascinatingly engrossing. Certainly one of the year's better films. Expand
0 of 0 users found this helpful
10
GregS.Feb 25, 2004
The best film of the year. Absolutely emotionally devastating. Lives are stripped to the bone, and the trio of Del Toro, Watts and Penn are magnificent.
0 of 0 users found this helpful
10
ElliottJan 16, 2004
Best movie I saw this year. The challenge of structuring the film together was exhilarating. Naomi Watts delivers what is far and away the best performance by anyone this year, male or female. What an astonishing and fascinating film this Best movie I saw this year. The challenge of structuring the film together was exhilarating. Naomi Watts delivers what is far and away the best performance by anyone this year, male or female. What an astonishing and fascinating film this is. Truly, genuinely, a masterpiece. Expand
0 of 0 users found this helpful
8
StephenS.Feb 2, 2004
After the heights of ?Amores Perros?, I didn?t think Mexican director Inarritu would adapt to Hollywood actors and North American settings. If anything, the tart combination of Hispanic drama and North American surroundings suits his After the heights of ?Amores Perros?, I didn?t think Mexican director Inarritu would adapt to Hollywood actors and North American settings. If anything, the tart combination of Hispanic drama and North American surroundings suits his temperament admirably. The plot resembles a rococo Almodovar story, one step short of absurd - guy sporting surgically inserted heart has affair of the heart with widow of previous owner of heart. But Inarritu is buoyed by a fine script, great actors, and a commendable grasp of modern film grammar. He slices up the sub-stories and time-frames relentlessly, not pretentiously. Few scenes look superfluous, or drag on ten seconds longer than they ought to. Sit back, don?t try to figure everything at once, and it falls together (almost too neatly, in fact) in its own sweet time. The quality of the work suggests sustained heartfelt effort on the part of Inarritu and his writer Arriaga. When a director gives so much of himself, you can see everything he makes while the streak lasts. Nobody should be surprised by the Benicio Del Toro and Sean Penn performances, but what a show by Naomi Watts, full of edgy intelligence and explosive vigour. Expand
0 of 0 users found this helpful
10
AlanB.Mar 31, 2004
A deep exploration into the darkest side of the human condition. This film will affect you whether you prepared for it or not. Oscar worthy performances from all three leads and an intruiging visual style make this "21 Grams" a must-see. But A deep exploration into the darkest side of the human condition. This film will affect you whether you prepared for it or not. Oscar worthy performances from all three leads and an intruiging visual style make this "21 Grams" a must-see. But beware, it's heavy. Expand
0 of 0 users found this helpful
7
GregT.Mar 22, 2004
This is a greatly acted film, but grim, grim, grim. This film is about grief and loss. It is depressing and suffering is the persistent theme. I don't really understand the purpose of this film other than to realize that we are all dying.
0 of 0 users found this helpful
10
JohnM.Mar 29, 2004
Difficult but profound movie that raises the curtain on the very meaning of life. Haunting!
0 of 0 users found this helpful
10
ThomY.Mar 17, 2004
Unbelieveable. The film's fragmented style illustrates the randomness and structure that ties the three protaganists together.
0 of 0 users found this helpful
10
DavidC.Jan 31, 2005
Concentrate from the start and you will be rewarded with a very powerful move about redemption and a man's attempt to become a good person.
0 of 0 users found this helpful
9
T.M.Feb 28, 2005
I didn't care for this film the first time I saw it. II found the ending too protracted and the characters inconsistent, and overall I was disappointed. because I knew it had garnered much critical acclaim. But then I watched it a I didn't care for this film the first time I saw it. II found the ending too protracted and the characters inconsistent, and overall I was disappointed. because I knew it had garnered much critical acclaim. But then I watched it a second time, understood it much better, and fell in love with it. Now I consider it one of the best films of 2003. Moving, powerful, profound, ironic, stark, realistic, and accurate in its portayal of American social classes. The actors took the meat in their roles and made from that it a unique, unforgettable stew. Expand
0 of 0 users found this helpful
10
PaulF.Apr 17, 2005
This was both Sean Penn's and Benicio Del Toro's best movie period. Among many things I enjoyed the mixed time sequence though seemingly chaotic it made perfect sense at the end. The acting could not have been more perfect but This was both Sean Penn's and Benicio Del Toro's best movie period. Among many things I enjoyed the mixed time sequence though seemingly chaotic it made perfect sense at the end. The acting could not have been more perfect but better than that was the movies spiritual message which was tremendously positive. This is hard to do in a movie dealing with such dark subjects. I highly recommend this movie for anyone that is interested in deep thought and spiritual issues. Expand
0 of 0 users found this helpful
9
Falcon9gxgcApr 24, 2011
I'll start off by saying that, yes this movie is in fact depressing. Iñárritu creates an asphyxiating atmosphere that literally sucks you in and keeps you at the edge of your seat.
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9
ZiggyStardustJul 3, 2011
Well done acting, well done story and well done directing. The film is definitely worth buying on DVD and devours the watcher in the tale it's telling.
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10
DrDuranJul 4, 2011
This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Alejandro Gonzalez lights up the screen in this horribly beautiful piece. This is one of the most depressingly fantastic bits to cross the barnyard in a chimps age. Benicio is sad and dark, while Naomi is downright cryptic and unmistakenly brooding. This piece of cinema smashes you in the face with bits of confusion with a sick side of morose. Smile while I shove a nail in your eye is what we say.

Kill my family and I will smile all the way to hell, but not really. Mr. Penn delivers another fantastically crafted bit of acting to add to his repertoir. If you can sit in a pile of one's own mire and whistle dixie, then this flick is for you. Turn down the lights and ready your nerves because this comes at you this way and that without a slice of sorrow.
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8
j30Sep 4, 2011
Great editing and acting performances. It's a hard movie to watch because of the subject matter, but don't let that detour you away from the movie.
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9
cameronmorewoodNov 8, 2012
A fantastic nonlinear thriller that keeps surprising us and is driven by a flawless performance from Naomi Watts.
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7
nate8Feb 7, 2013
-fractured, intense, painful structure and stories reflect the presence of death -colorful characters with complex backgrounds and strong acting combine with the intensity of the structure -audience left with same discomfort and need for rest-fractured, intense, painful structure and stories reflect the presence of death -colorful characters with complex backgrounds and strong acting combine with the intensity of the structure -audience left with same discomfort and need for rest as characters Expand
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10
MovieGuysSep 10, 2014
21 Grams is the kind of "jigsaw puzzle, one piece at a time" movie that is extremely risky and confident, but might not always pay off. Luckily, 21 Grams' emotional payoff is one of the best I've ever seen. It carefully skips clichés of the21 Grams is the kind of "jigsaw puzzle, one piece at a time" movie that is extremely risky and confident, but might not always pay off. Luckily, 21 Grams' emotional payoff is one of the best I've ever seen. It carefully skips clichés of the genre, and tells its story with explosive acting and expertly crafted screenplay. It has round characters who are worth caring about, and an ending that is completely satisfying. This movie is very underrated, and director Alejandro González Iñárritu deserves much credit and praise for creating a well-meaning and powerful tale of redemption, loss, and sorrow. Expand
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8
TheFilmDoctorMar 22, 2016
Like Mystic River–with which it shares far more than just a stunning, sorrow-wracked performance from Sean Penn–21 Grams uses raw emotional power to explore the aftermath of violence, the way a single wrongful act can ricochet through theLike Mystic River–with which it shares far more than just a stunning, sorrow-wracked performance from Sean Penn–21 Grams uses raw emotional power to explore the aftermath of violence, the way a single wrongful act can ricochet through the lives of everyone it touches. The accomplished second feature by Amores Perros director Alejandro González Iñárritu, 21 Grams focuses on the life-changing consequences of a fatal automobile accident that kills Naomi Watts' husband and children. After an extended period of sobriety, the grief-sodden Watts starts abusing drugs again. She also becomes attracted to Penn, the terminally ill beneficiary of her late husband's heart transplant, and a man entering the bleak final stages of his life and his failing marriage. Benicio Del Toro co-stars as an ex-con father and husband whose garish tattoos are only the most physical manifestation of a hard life filled with violence, drugs, and prison. After decades spent in and out of jail, Del Toro has found religion and turned his life around, but when he fatally wounds Watts' family with a truck advertising his love of Jesus, his hard-won faith is irrevocably damaged. In 21 Grams, Watts, Del Toro, and Penn all occupy a horrific limbo somewhere between life and death. Tragedy has robbed them of their ability to enjoy life, but it's also spared them, at least temporarily, the finality and certainty of death. Working once again with ace cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto and screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga, Iñárritu sustains a mournful atmosphere throughout 21 Grams, creating a world where the absence of the dead is felt as strongly as the presence of the living. A nearly unparalleled actor's showcase, the film boasts performances of impressive quality and quantity: Penn brings a coiled, Brando-esque intensity to a performance that eerily echoes his turn in Mystic River, but he's equaled by the formidable Del Toro and Watts, who tear into their own meaty, challenging roles. Their complexity matches the film's. At a time when the justice system seems intent on extracting an eye for an eye, 21 Grams suggests that the harshest punishment may be the one enacted by the consciences of the guilty. Expand
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9
SpangleJul 29, 2016
"Pues cuando ardió la pérdida, reverdecieron sus maizales", which translates to "For when the loss burned, their cornfields became green again" is the perfect dedication for this beautifully moving look at death and its effects on three"Pues cuando ardió la pérdida, reverdecieron sus maizales", which translates to "For when the loss burned, their cornfields became green again" is the perfect dedication for this beautifully moving look at death and its effects on three previously unconnected people. From the masterful mind of Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, this phenomenal film may truly be his magnum opus. A poetic and stirring look at death with truly breathtaking performances from Sean Penn, Naomi Watts, and Benicio del Toro, this film brought me to tears so many times, I lost count. The non-linear narrative can be a bit of a challenge, but when you see the whole thing, the power of it all truly brings you to your knees. The characters are brilliantly developed and express emotions and pain the way a real person would. Their writing is so strong that their pain becomes your pain as the film invokes a consistent feeling of empathy for all three of the characters, regardless of their transgressions and personal faults. 21 Grams is a stunning work that will leave you in ruins. Expand
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