Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu follows up on his critically acclaimed, Oscar-nominated “Amores Perros” with the English-language film “21 Grams,” a stunning virtuoso performance by director, cast and crew. This movie premiers at the Smith Opera House on April 8, and ruminates on life, death and the relationship the living have with the dead. What does one owe the dead? Where does one go for hope and redemption?
The movie moves back and forward in time. Yet the strategy is not to confuse but rather to engage the viewer's thought process in ways a linear narrative might not inspire. The tenuous happiness of three families is overturned forever by a tragic accident. Math professor Paul Rivers (Penn) lies dying of heart disease, and his previously estranged wife, Mary (Charlotte Gainsbourg), is determined to get pregnant with his child through artificial insemination. Then the miracle of a heart transplant revives him but not their love.
Cristina Peck (Best Actress Oscar nominee Watts) has escaped a life of drugs and partying through a stable marriage to an architect (Danny Huston) and the motherhood of two little girls. Her redeemed life parallels that of the alcoholic, abusive Jack Jordan (Best Supporting Actor nominee Del Toro). Since his last stay in prison, Jack has turned his life around through Jesus Christ. Yet wife Marianne (Melissa Leo) sometimes longs for the old Jack.
The accident, which alters the trajectory of all these lives, leaves survivors burdened with an overwhelming sense of guilt. Life goes on, they are told. Does it?
The Smith Opera House screens “21 Grams” at 7 p.m. April 8, 9 and 10. With a running time of two hours, five minutes, this film is rated R language, sexuality, some violence and drug use. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for students and seniors. All seats on Thursday are $3. Call 781-5483 or toll-free 866-355-5483 for details or to pre-order tickets.
The Smith Opera House is located at 82 Seneca Street in Geneva. The Smith is supported, in part, with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, the City of Geneva, the Town of Geneva and by contributions from individual supporters.