A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this film includes explicit, traumatic violence, especially by gunfire and especially involving young children. In one incident, a boy shoots a rifle at a tourists' bus from far away, accidentally hitting a young mother; she bleeds and becomes increasingly weak through the rest of the film. In another, authorities shoot at a father and his two young sons (one shoots back at them, and the other is shot dead, all shown in bloody, sad imagery). When a nanny is lost in the desert with two young children, the kids become badly dehydrated and very sick. To shock some boys, a high school student shows off what's under her school uniform skirt. She also discusses her mother's suicide and considers it for herself; at one point she stands on a high rise balcony, frightening her father. The same girl later appears naked before a policeman (there are two shots of frontal nudity). A boy masturbates. Characters drink, smoke, do drugs, and use profanity, especially "f--k."
What's the story?
At once poetic, provocative, and plaintive, BABEL explores different people's efforts to communicate with one another. They range from desperate to exhilarating, and some fail while others succeed. All are difficult. Like director Alejandro González Iñárritu's other movies, this one tackles difficult themes using a complex, contrived structure. Three basic storylines intersect at different times and through too-clever allusions. Powerfully linked by instances of violence, the stories all concern children who are caught up in circumstances beyond their easy comprehension. Two plots are connected by family members: Richard (Brad Pitt) and his wife Susan (Cate Blanchett) have traveled to Morocco in an effort to get over a traumatic event. They've left their children, Debbie (Elle Fanning) and Mike (Nathan Gamble), at home in San Diego, under the care of their housekeeper, Amelia (Adriana Barraza).Tragedy strikes in Morocco when Susan is shot in the neck. Richard works frantically to get help. At the same time, Amelia, not knowing why Richard and Susan are delayed, is worried she'll miss her son's wedding in Mexico. At last, she decides to take the children with her to Tijuana, an idea questioned even by her reckless nephew Santiago (Gael García Bernal). He drives them to and from the wedding, but on their return they're stopped at the border, and Santiago's reaction leads to disaster. In the third story, deaf Tokyo high schooler Chieko (Rinko Kikuchi), struggles with her mother's recent suicide and rebels against her father Yasujiro (Kôji Yakusho), who is nominally linked to Susan's shooting, but the thematic links -- between nations, individuals, and images -- are more potent here, especially as all concern kids and parents.
Is it any good?
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the film's central theme -- communication. How can you communicate with someone if you don't understand their language? How can communication help solve problems? How do parents and caregivers sometimes end up making poor decisions about the kids in their care? Could situations like that be avoided if rebellious children and their angry or anxious parents were able to talk? How do the movie's imagery and soundtrack evoke the experiences of being afraid, high, or even deaf?
- In theaters: October 27, 2006
- On DVD or streaming: February 20, 2007
- Cast: Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Gael Garcia Bernal
- Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
- Studio: Paramount Vantage
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 141 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: for violence, some graphic nudity, sexual content, language and some drug use.
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