21 Grams

21 Grams Image
Metascore
70

Generally favorable reviews - based on 41 Critics What's this?

User Score
8.0

Generally favorable reviews- based on 204 Ratings

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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 31 out of 41
  2. Negative: 5 out of 41
  1. 100
    A stunning kaleidoscope of a motion picture - a mosaic of images that gradually resolves itself into a powerful tale of tragedy and redemption.
  2. This sad, staggering drama should be seen: out of the grimness, and the profound calamity, you can almost taste life in your mouth.
  3. Wall Street Journal
    Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    90
    Mr. Penn has been praised lavishly for his work in "Mystic River," in a role that was no reach for him at all, but this is one of the stand-out performances of his career, layered and exquisitely nuanced. And, remarkably, he's only one-third of a stellar ensemble.
  4. A devastating and weighty picture.
  5. 70
    Uprooted from their home soil, González Iñárritu and screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga can't quite manage to make this gloomy, improbable stew of romance, film noir and pseudo-metaphysical speculation hang together.
  6. 63
    The fragmented style is distracting and ultimately annoying, robbing the story of its suspense and drive while contributing nothing except self-conscious style.
  7. It's so laden with foreboding, you want to get out from under it and gasp for air.

See all 41 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 47 out of 62
  2. Negative: 9 out of 62
  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.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 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. 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 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
  3. Nov 8, 2012
    9
    A fantastic nonlinear thriller that keeps surprising us and is driven by a flawless performance from Naomi Watts.
  4. Mar 22, 2016
    8
    Like Mystic River–with which it shares far more than just a stunning, sorrow-wracked performance from Sean Penn–21 Grams uses raw emotionalLike 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
  5. Aug 29, 2010
    7
    Between "Amores Perros," "Babel" and this movie, Gonzalez Inarritu has produced some of the heaviest dramas of the past 10 years. Perhaps itBetween "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
  6. AmurabiM.
    Jun 23, 2006
    7
    Sordid, grim, powerful and sad. That´s what "21 Grams" is. A story of grieving, fault, guilt and redemprtion. Guileermo Arriaga´s 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
  7. PaulW.
    Mar 6, 2008
    2
    Grams is a completely boring and uncompelling story about people who are instantly forgettable because we have seen them all before. Much of Grams is a completely boring and uncompelling story about people who are instantly forgettable because we have seen them all before. Much of the character's actions are either clichéd or too unsympathetic to be gripping. The movie plods so much that it actually slows down real time, the story jumps around like a frog on speed and the soundtrack, if you can call it that, didn't take more than 1 guitarist recording some feedback from his guitar while he was taking a nap on it. Expand

See all 62 User Reviews

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