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Movie Review: 21 Grams

Story: Bring a spatula to help scrape yourself out of your seat after viewing this powerful, brooding film. Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Amores Perros) in only his second film outing has begun what I can only hope will be a long illustrious career in film making. (21 Grams refers to the weight, mass or loss that is said to leave the body at the time of death).

I can't reveal much of the story because it would spoil it for you (I would never do that) but I can say that a disastrous event brings three unrelated characters together who would never have met had it not been for this tragedy.

The film is told in a nonlinear narrative. If this type of storytelling confuses you, I advise you to stay far, far away. However, if like me, you like cinematic challenges, I can't recommend this film more.

It is a non-glossy look at grief and what can happen to people after terrible loss. The celluloid itself is even grainy, dark and gritty.

Anyone who has suffered loss (recently or in the past) will understand this nonlinear scenario as events and timelines distort as we try to understand what has happened to our lives. The past, present and whatever future ahead might be somehow seamlessly merge into one.

Acting: The three main characters are all phenomenal. Sean Penn, in yet another sensitive performance is believable, solid and terrific. Benicio del Toro is larger than life and bursts right off of the screen. And a special round of applause to the extraordinary Naomi Watts who I think will bring us many years of great performances. The supporting cast is also knock your socks off terrific.

Predilection: I like films about fate and the possibilities of redemption.

Critters: One dog, a hamster and a flock of birds.

Food: Booze, Cola and ice cream.

Visual Art: Lots of interesting art in varying degrees of fineness -- from some interesting photography and prints to tacky motel art and religious art.

Blatant Product Placement: None.

Soundtrack: Haunting.

Theater Audience: A handful of devoted film goers.

Sappy Factor: Are you kidding? 0

Quirky Meter: The narrative style gives it s 4.

Squirm Scale: 4 - There are some squirmy moments that involve medical procedures and self mutilation.

Predictability Level: I had no idea where there was going.

Oscar Worthy: Yes.

Nit Picking: No nits here - all right, one little nit. I was baffled by the fact that Sean Penn's character was a math professor. I thought it was not explained thoroughly to even want him to have a profession -- but I did like the small scene about math and randomness (but then again, this film is about randomness occurrences).

Big Screen or Rental: Big screen for sure if you can handle it. For some Naomi Watts films, how about catching these: Le Divorce, The Ring and Mulholland Dr.

Length: Two hours.

LOBO HOWLS: 9