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21 Grams

They say we all lose 21 grams at the exact moment of our death... everyone. The weight of a stack of nickels. The weight of a chocolate bar. The weight of a hummingbird... 

Year: 2003 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (XWide) 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: The level of subtitling in this film is unknown to WSC 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  
An image from 21 Grams

Paul Rivers (Penn) is desperately waiting for a heart transplant, Christina Peck (Watts) is a reformed junkie with a loving husband and two girls, and Jack Jordan (Del Toro), is an ex-convict who has found in his Christian faith the strength to raise a family. These three characters are brought together by a terrible accident that will change their lives. By the final frame, none of them will be the same as they learn harsh truths about love, faith, courage, desire and guilt, and how chance can change our worlds irretrievably, forever.

Nominated for several Oscars, Inarritu has created a masterpiece which outweighs Amores Perros, and this is no mean feat. Many themes can be drawn from this film but it appears that the notion of reformation, which all three characters face at some point in the film, is questioned most of all.

The film succeeds on two levels. Firstly, the script and the acting are superb. Powerful scenes will drain the viewer of every emotion. No single actor stands out as performances are equally as exceptional as each other, but credit should go to Watts, nominated for an Oscar, who seems to be getting better and better in every film. Secondly, and I believe what separates the film from other dramas, is Inarritu’s decision to present scenes in no chronological order. Much like Memento, this can be argued as a piece of interactive cinema which challenges its audience to work out what is happening and to keep up with the plot. This allows the viewer to feel involved; there is no sitting back and relaxing to be had, which only makes the events on screen more harrowing as they must also be experienced by the watcher.

As smart as it is observant, 21 Grams will stick in your mind for days after, and it will only leave when you accept that a simple event can affect so many people’s lives.

Twenty-one grams. The weight of a stack of five nickels. The weight of a chocolate bar. The weight of a hummingbird. If this is the weight we lose at death, how much is gained in life?

Phil Lurie

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Screenings of this film:

2003/2004 Summer Term (35mm)
2003/2004 Summer Term (35mm)