User Score
8.0

Generally favorable reviews- based on 182 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 13 out of 182
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  1. Sep 10, 2014
    10
    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 the genre, and tells its story with explosive acting and expertly crafted screenplay. It has round characters who are worth caring about, and an ending21 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
  2. Nov 8, 2012
    9
    A fantastic nonlinear thriller that keeps surprising us and is driven by a flawless performance from Naomi Watts.
  3. Jul 4, 2011
    10
    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.
    Expand
  4. Jul 3, 2011
    9
    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.
  5. Apr 24, 2011
    9
    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.
  6. LeviS.
    Jan 22, 2009
    10
    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 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
  7. lewis
    Nov 20, 2007
    9
    My favorite movie , great picture, awesome acting , it shows the sad reality of life and the struggle for a better one after we fall.
  8. jw
    Aug 11, 2007
    9
    (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 (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
  9. PaulF.
    Apr 17, 2005
    10
    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 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
  10. T.M.
    Feb 28, 2005
    9
    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, 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
  11. DavidC.
    Jan 31, 2005
    10
    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.
  12. JayS.
    Nov 9, 2004
    10
    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.
  13. GunterP.
    Nov 1, 2004
    9
    Maybe the best movie from last year.
  14. TyS
    Aug 29, 2004
    10
    The most amazing film I have seen in ages. As a reviewer put it best when he said "you can taste it ". SUPERB !!!
  15. JedG.
    Jul 15, 2004
    10
    Excellent.
  16. MaggieM.
    Jun 29, 2004
    9
    Beautiful, dark, and superbly acted. My only problem was the abrupt ending.
  17. SteveY.
    May 30, 2004
    10
    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 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
  18. AlanB.
    Mar 31, 2004
    10
    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.
  19. JohnM.
    Mar 29, 2004
    10
    Difficult but profound movie that raises the curtain on the very meaning of life. Haunting!
  20. FernandoA.
    Mar 18, 2004
    9
    Excellent movie; however, check out Amores Perros from the same director. It is even better!
  21. ThomY.
    Mar 17, 2004
    10
    Unbelieveable. The film's fragmented style illustrates the randomness and structure that ties the three protaganists together.
  22. TylerC.
    Mar 17, 2004
    10
    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!!
  23. GregS.
    Feb 25, 2004
    10
    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.
  24. KyleA.
    Jan 31, 2004
    10
    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 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
  25. Elliott
    Jan 16, 2004
    10
    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.
  26. PrestonF.
    Jan 5, 2004
    10
    A wonderfully sad film!
  27. TonyB.
    Jan 4, 2004
    10
    One of the best movies I've seen in a while, should definitely win some Oscars.
  28. HYC
    Dec 30, 2003
    10
    A must see.
  29. EvanM.
    Dec 14, 2003
    10
    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.
  30. StuartQ.
    Dec 1, 2003
    10
    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.
  31. BradleeJ.
    Nov 26, 2003
    9
    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 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
  32. Missy
    Nov 24, 2003
    10
    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.
  33. AndyHernaD.
    Nov 24, 2003
    10
    You must see the Movie.
  34. JerryH.
    Nov 4, 2003
    9
    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 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
  35. WilliamM.
    Oct 31, 2003
    10
    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 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
Metascore
70

Generally favorable reviews - based on 41 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 31 out of 41
  2. Negative: 5 out of 41
  1. A stunning virtuoso performance by director, cast and crew. This movie knocks you out with an astonishing blend of hyper-realism, visual complexity and powerful themes.
  2. Reviewed by: Glenn Kenny
    50
    Too-laborious meditation on life and death.
  3. It’s forceful, to be sure, but in a lurid way that suggests a telenovela that’s been baking in the sun too long.