Across four/five different countries we see how the one big event that has unfolded links them all together whilst also highlighting different personal struggles.
Babel is a very unique film, having four different strands with many different characters across the four areas. While one event will link them all together it is not shown in chronological order. This is obviously going to make the plot rather difficult to outline but I will just do a little bit of a mention for what is happening in each area.
In Morocco a goat herder who buys a rifle to shoot the jackals that have been attacking his goats and gives it to his two sons Yussef and Ahmed. They don’t really believe that the bullets will travel three kilometres and test it out shooting at rocks and then to the highway below. When a tourist bus is passing through and this hits Susan Jones an American woman who is travelling with her husband Richard. This causes chaos on the bus and the panic is real especially when it is regarded as a terrorist attack.
Richard and Susan had been having a lot of problems recently and are supposed to be attempting some kind of relaxation on this holiday. Something Susan is not really too fond of for the location choice. They have left their two children Debbie and Mike with Mexican nanny Amelia in San Diego. This then leads to a very tough situation for Amelia who is due to go to her own sons wedding, not being able to find someone to look after the children and when talking to Richard he demands she stays with the children, something I found very harsh for her being told to miss her own sons wedding. This was obviously never going to end well with crossing the border, even with the passports of the children two Mexican’s in the car with two American children.
Then in Japan we have Chieko Wataya who is rebelling against her father and quite frankly everything. She is struggling to be accepted due to being deaf and as it turned out her mother had not long ago committed suicide. For this she is very bitter and nasty towards her father. Longing for attention from men she then begins a very strange stage of even forcing them to touch her, the dentist scene and with the detective is tough viewing. In one way though I feel that it actually puts these men in a better light totally rejecting her advances. Before this she had even exposed herself to some boys her own age.
Each of the individual characters have links to the shooting of Susan in Morocco although they may not all be that simple to begin with. This obviously relies on strong performances, something we get across the whole film. Two were Oscar nominated, both in the Actress in a Supporting role category for Adrianna Barraza and Rinko Kikuchi. Incredible performances from both actresses and more than deserving of the nomination. Barraza managing to show the emotions of her situation given that her character had been working illegally in the US from Mexico. Then Kikuchi who for the role learnt sign language was then given the chance to show off her acting ability in that sense and becoming the first Japanese actress to be Oscar nominated in 50 years!
Given the split across the different areas all of the performances would be considered as supporting. Brad Pitt puts in a very powerful performance as the husband panicking and attempting to save his wives life and that is something that I feel he doesn’t get a lot of credit for this film. Elle Fanning and Nathan Gimble are both impressive as Debbie and Mike, very good acting in the car scene in particular from the very young pair. The same can be said for Boubker Ait El Caid and Said Tarchani, two more very young performers who are impressive in the film.
It raises plenty of questions about life, love, family and sex how these things are not very straight forward. Something I need to admit with this film is that I did see it on the cinema release and pretty much hated it, I decided to give it a second chance and I am pleased to say that I appreciate it a lot more now. My 19 year old self must have just thought this was all too much, so I think that is important to often give films a second chance many years later. Thankfully due to the Best Picture Project I have now found out that this is quite frankly a piece of art film at times.