Notes on 21 Grams, by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

Saw the film last night. Enjoyed it, but in a slightly removed sort of way. After seeing a few action flicks recently, 21 grams was noticeably more heady. The acting was superb, but in spite of it, this felt like a structuralist film. Comment about mathematics gave that away. Some possible descriptions, then:

The film was a triptych. Structural symmetry and contrast in 3 stories that were different but the same *at heart.* (how to accept, how to forgive, how to grieve, how to hope: kant’s imperatives: what can I know, what should I do)

The film’s characters were: criminal, victim, and witness (in a religious, calling one to one’s conscience kind of sense)

They were: criminal, victim, beneficiary (which would mean that we infer a hitchock logic of crime: the crime was done for somebody else, and it is what was given/taken and for/from whom that we need to figure out)

The film was a play on “the heart”, which for one was an organ, another a loss, and a third a guilt and burden… That the heart brings them together argues that the story is about the heart. Note that none of the characters seems to act “with the head” (hence as you were saying “they wouldn’t do that, she wouldn’t do that…”). They were acting w/ the heart, and feeling the heart’s many different pains (physical out of breath, vomiting, guilt ridden, heart broken love, longing of the heart, frozen heart/womb, etc.)

The film as an arithmetic: how many ways to get to 21 grams: nickels, sperm, cocaine, blood… If there is a conservation of soul in the universe, when three souls are lost, how is their mass redistributed among others? What events have to conspire to bring those people together who will redistribute the spirit lost in order to create new love, create forgiveness, give a killer a new lease on life, produce love for a dying man…

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