Box art for 21 Grams

21 Grams


The emotionally and physically charged lives of three peoplea professor (Sean Penn), an ex-con (Benicio Del Toro) and a mother with a reckless past (Naomi Watts)collide in this thriller.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

common sense

PAUSE for kids age 16
0 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
3 out of 5
5 out of 5
Positive messages
0 out of 5
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Thought-provoking film not for tweens/young teens.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that this film includes tragic deaths and brutal violence with gory wounds. There are explicit sexual references and situations, including nudity and a brief glimpse of a porno film. Characters drink, smoke, and use drugs. A character attempts suicide. There is very strong language.

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about why Inarritu chose to tell the story this way. How would its impact have been different if told in a more conventional structure?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

  • Tomatometer®

    reviews counted: 30
    see all 21 Grams reviews
  • Audience


Top Critic Reviews

Fresh: Every year needs a challenging masterwork, a movie that defies filmmaking convention and leaves an indelible mark on the collective psyche.

- Bill Muller, Arizona Republic, Thursday, December 25, 2003

Fresh: Inarritu and Arriaga's first English-language film doesn't approach the brilliance of Amores Perros, but it succeeds on a more modest scale.

- Carla Meyer, San Francisco Chronicle, Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Fresh: "21 Grams" commands a running discourse that runs as a constant thematic thread through all of humanity. The movie delivers life as a floating mysterious entity that we all share. It's very few films that achieve anything remotely close.

- Cole Smithey,, Thursday, June 24, 2010

Audience Reviews

4 stars

Marvellous performances from the principal players. Very harrowing and a superb follow-up to Amores Perros. Crushingly depressing for most, but as if I care about that.

- guttersnipe28, Monday, October 18, 2010

5 stars

This is told in a very similar way to Amores Perros, but Im beginning to think that it is just the style of Alejandro Gonzlez Irritu. Telling a very particular event and its outcome from three perspectives gives the viewer a lot to think about. The story is probably complicated to some and downright confusing to others, but if you let your viewing practice switch just a little it is quite easy to understand. The film is non-linear, but it follows a very direct emotional path that makes perfect sense in the larger sense. This is more of a direct character piece, rather than true stories. It is mostly about the three people and their lives. It doesnt delve much into supporting roles or background imagery, which is where it really differs from Amores Perros. Its a completely different atmosphere from what Im used to seeing in film because it doesnt really feel like a film. It feels like snippets of someones mind and images that serve as a counterpart to it. Those minds are acted out wonderfully by Sean Penn, Naomi Watts and Benicio Del Toro. The way they interact or dont interact is so interesting to watch. You really get the feeling that these characters could live outside the film. Now I do stand by the judgment that this isnt a visual film, but that isnt to say it isnt beautiful. You might not need the images, but they are almost like a series of perfect photos that would show in an art gallery.

- ythelastman89, Thursday, April 29, 2010

3 stars

I didn't have many expectations of 21 Grams before I watched it, I just knew it had Naomi Watts in it and it was recieved reasonably well critically when it was released. What I ended up seeing. was an interesting and layered movie, that featured some great performances. 21 Grams could be compared to something like Traffic or Crash. The similarities between those three aren't really in their content, but instead stem from the way each weaves a larger story from the intertwining lives of several individuals. This kind of drama isn't really my thing, but occasionally I stumble upon an example that draws me in more than normal. 21 Grams is one of those examples. Its non-linear storytelling makes you actively think about what's going on and constantly adjust the way you look at the characters, and that's a surefire way to keep me interested. Everything rests on the performances of the admittedly impressive cast, and they deliver exactly what's asked of them. Most impressive is Naomi Watts, who continues to steal nearly every movie that she's in. She's just a great actress. And you can't forget Sean Penn, Benico Del Toro, Charlotte Gainsbourg, and Melissa Leo. You'd expect quality acting from a cast list like that, and that's what they provide. No complaints from me. As I said before, I'm not a huge fan of this genre. But I ended up liking 21 Grams more than I expected to. It's gritty and depressing, so don't bother with it if you like tidy endings or have a low tolerance for watching others be painfully miserable. Themes of faith, revenge, grief, addiction, and despair are explored extensively, but by the end of the movie there's a glimmer of hope awaiting the viewer and the characters. Just be prepared to follow them a long way down, before they find that silver lining.

- lewiskendell, Tuesday, April 27, 2010