This week we tackle one of Cate Blanchett’s weirdest roles, that of an injured American tourist traveling in Morocco in Babel (2006). To discuss Alejandro González Iñárritu’s film and Blanchett’s penchant to sometimes take on small supporting parts, Murtada welcomes to the podcast Zita Short, critic for InSession Film and Jumpcut Online and host of The 300 Passions Podcast.
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What is the film about?
From IMDB: Tragedy strikes a married couple on vacation in the Moroccan desert, touching off an interlocking story involving four different families.
Who does Cate play?
Susan Jones, an American tourist who gets injured during a trip to Morocco.
What year did it come out?
Box Office: US= $34MM Outside US = $101MM
- The films of Alejandro González Iñárritu which include Amores Perros, Biutiful, 21 Grams, Birdman and The Revenant.
- Cate and Brad Pitt – made two films together in quick succession. See also The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008). What do we think of them as a screen couple?
- The theme of globalization – how people are treated in “foreign lands,” the Americans in Morocco vs. the Mexicans in the US.
- Linking the separate stories together by the end is something Iñárritu loves to do. See also Amores Perros. It feels slightly overengineered.
- Weird role for Cate; she spends almost the entire movie on the floor of a hut in Morocco.
- Babel was an Oscar success with nominations for best film and best director (the year The Departed and Martin Scorses won). Also nominated were the performances from Adriana Barraza and Rinko Kikuchi.
- Are Cate and Brad playing “ugly Americans” abroad? The film does not shy away from presenting them as entitled despite the circumstances that they are in.
- Lots of familiar faces in the cast. Harriett Walter, young Elle Fanning, Clifton Collins Jr and Michael Pena. Kōji Yakusho from Koreda’s The Third Murder.
- Babel vs. Crash – many reviews made the comparison perhaps because of the multiple story lines. Babel is weirder, less sentimental.
Film within context of Cate’s career:
- 2006 was a busy year in film for Cate. She also had The Good German and Notes on a Scandal released within weeks of this film. In an interview with NPR she apologized for “being very present at the moment.”
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