Unflappable desert village life, pulsing Tokyo teen culture, and a vibrant Mexican wedding are treated with reverence and delight, in unsubtle contrast to depictions of people lost in cultural wildernesses.
Well acted and handsomely photographed, but still extraordinarily overpraised and overblown, a middlebrow piece of near-nonsense: the kind of self-conscious arthouse cinema that is custom-tailored and machine-tooled for the dinner-party demographic.
[Inarritu] remains as entranced as ever by fate, loss and the interconnectedness of humankind, and I admire him for it. But Babel isn't the last or best word on that subject. It's just a lot of talk.
The filmmakers don't seem to understand or care much about many of these people, but they use them to unload ideas about violence, communication, and tribal misunderstandings -- trading on suffering as they aim for cosmic wisdom.
The director interweaves his stories like a symphonic composer, teasing out suspense here, adding foreboding there, bringing in a surge of crushing pathos, but then providing a blessed note of hope and reconciliation.