For director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu ("21 Grams"), the theme of being an outsider is personal. "Babel," with Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett and a strong ensemble cast, is inspired by his own experiences as a Mexican living in the United States for five years.
"You are suddenly outside your little ranch, your little comfort zone, where you are somebody," he told The Associated Press on Tuesday. "To be an immigrant makes you more aggressive and more observant and more excited and more vulnerable. That's good ... I think it's a very interesting process, not easy, but you enrich yourself."
Halfway through the Cannes Film Festival, the moving "Babel" is arguably the strongest film so far in the main competition. Like "21 Grams" and "Amores Perros," Inarritu's first film, "Babel" weaves together stories about people whose lives are changed by a shared crisis.
In "Babel," scheduled for U.S. release Oct. 6, the starting point is a rifle shot in the Moroccan desert that pierces the roof of a tourist bus and brings aftershocks in California, Mexico and Japan. It's an intimate tale of globalization, about the difficulties of communicating pain whether you're at home or far away.
Blanchett and Pitt play a couple fleeing a personal tragedy by taking a trip to faraway North Africa. But their star power does not overshadow the rest of the cast, and every story line has equal weight, according to the AP.
A California nanny (Adriana Barraza in a heart-wrenching performance) goes to great lengths to cross into Mexico for her son's wedding, putting her young charges into danger.
A deaf schoolgirl in Tokyo (Rinko Kikuchi) acts out in grief after her mother's suicide by trying to seduce every man she meets. Veteran Japanese actor Koji Yakusho ("Memoirs of a Geisha") plays her father.
Inarritu says weaving together several story lines comes naturally to him.
In just a few films, Inarritu has worked with some of Hollywood's most respected actors. "21 Grams" brought Academy Award nominations for Naomi Watts and Benicio Del Toro, and it also starred Sean Penn.
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