Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Gracias Innaritu

I saw Babel last night. Usually I don’t do reviews or posts on movies. I sincerely believe that my tastes in the arts cannot be singled out as vanguard and therefore I refrain from commenting through my experiences. There are times, however, when I’m forced to make exceptions.

Babel, a tower that humans decided to build in order to reach heaven and God. The arrogance of man got to God, who in all his humility, made everybody speak different languages. The premise is not new, neither is the treatment. Crash worked on similar premise and I’ve seen the treatment in Crash, Syriana, and Traffic.

Babel did not hit me like a Departed. It did not make me comfortable in the end like Crash. What it did do was make me watch each scene with a growing restlessness for each of its characters. This is saying a lot for its inertia breaking potential as the movie unfolds languorously through less than restless dimensions.

There is no point in making a point of its non linear approach to story telling. It’s the new age of film making and today’s directors don’t make films but tell stories. Of people and circumstances that are anything but linear.

There is a brilliant cameo by Gael Garcia Bernal as Santiago, the nanny’s nephew who comes into the story to catalyze the mexicano sojourn. As the reel unfolds with him, you sit at the edge of your seat trying to figure out where the disruption is going to happen. You know that its going to happen at his hands as such compelling a performance cannot be wasted. And, does it happen at his hands? No. He stands as a bystander for long as his identity is linked to his roots and persecuted. And, then he reacts…not like the dude you would have expected him to be but, so like a hunted animal in desperate abandon. What a performance. Focus on his eyes and sure to God u will see what I’m talking about.

Ah, the Japanese girl…..Rinko Kikuchi…Cheiko..hers is a story of the director’s indulgence. Very loosely tied to the main script, she flirts at the fringe but, forms the recurring conscience of the film. I had only heard till now that Japan is always on the move. See how Japan is captured frame by frame and you bet its on the move. There is nothing out of the ordinary this girl does. She plays volleyball. She meets friends. She wants to attract guys. She is desperate for love. She has an angst ridden family life. She wants to get laid. And, she is also deaf and dumb. But, contrast these very human failings with the awe inspiring solution provider, always ahead, facade of japanese culture and you have a story. Japan is definitely on the move but Cheiko isn’t. Like so many like her around the world, she is just trying….

To me this movie was not just about communication that was not able to fructify because it went un understood. No. That would be too simple a demand by the director from his audience.
The one big thing that I carried back was “dignity”. The dignity of life and living.

An American woman has been shot. She lies in an unknown village at the back of nowhere. She can’t move. She is forced to relieve herself in her clothes. Knowing the person for who she is her husband picks up his shot wife and enables her to accomplish relieving herself again in a pan. It doesn’t matter if shes dying, she deserves the dignity to be herself. And, that is when, while she is relieving herself, they find reason to speak the same language again. Of forgiveness. Of truth. Not profound, but, momentous in terms of discovery.

As the older brother gets shot and the father runs towards him, the younger one does what comes naturally to him. He picks up the gun and starts firing. He is a dude and he knows best. Well, till he sees his brother dying. And, then he takes the most decisive action of the movie , he kills the rifle and walks out to surrender. Tall in stature and dignity both.

As the American woman lies shot and bleeding in a ramshackle house, left to the care of an even more dilapidated old Moroccan woman you hope and pray that that is not the end. As the old woman rises to shut the door against prying eyes you breathe again. Cultures are isolated but understanding of privacy is not.

As the nanny’s daughters dress her up for her son’s wedding in her old, very old, when she was 20 types red dress, the nanny comments on how it still fits her because she is still young. The daughters smile, hide the part where the back zip refuses to zip their mother’s age and make her feel all of 20 again.

As I said, the dignity of life and living.

As you can see this is no review. Just pictures that made me think. A story that was told. And. not forgotten.

Was the movie good? Who cares???


Abhigyan said...

That's an absolutely brilliant take on a very good flick....And mind you, you read the finer points as well as one does in good should start putting your takes on movies more frequently, your perspectives sound much better than global agyan...

rayshma said...

u're right. this isn't a review. it's FAR better! it actually reaches out to me & makes me "feel" the movie. something reviews have never done.
m gonna check out the movie. :)