In 21 Grams, Gonzalez-Iñarittu's second feature, we see the story of three people whose lives and fate come together in a car crash. In the brilliant narrative structure, present and past become intertwined. This background is reminiscent of Gonzalez-Iñarittu's very successful début Amores perros, but 21 Grams is much more than a repeat exercise with a cast of Hollywood stars. The film is structured as a complex puzzle in time and space; the pieces of this fascinating puzzle are cleverly revealed one by one to the viewer. The film style is fluent yet harsh and realistic, much hand held. Gonzalez-Iñarittu worked largely with the same people as Amores perros, for instance scriptwriter Arriaga Jordan and cameraman Prieto. For the characters in 21 Grams, death has a truly catalytic influence on life. University lecturer Paul (Sean Penn) is suffering from a fatal heart disease and is on the waiting list for a transplant; Christina (Naomi Watts) is a former party type and drug addict who now leads a calm life with husband and children; and finally there is Jack (Benicio del Toro), a hot tempered ex-president who seeks redemption in religion. None of the characters are simply good or bad, they are primarily very human. The actors were able to use this script to get the best out of themselves and they all excelled: at the Venice Festival, all three of them won prizes.
Alejandro González Iñárritu
Countries of production
USA, Mexico
Production Year
Festival Edition
IFFR 2004
Y Productions, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Robert Salerno
Focus Features
Sean Penn, Benicio del Toro, Naomi Watts
Local Distributor
Paradiso Filmed Entertainment (oud)