Review Detail

9.9 10 10
FanMix January 14, 2012 5685
Overall rating
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This is an old edit that probably more people should try to check out. Not everyone will like the film, not even in this version, but it's a testament to what fan-editing can do.

The original version of 21 Grams was really hard for me to get into. It's not just chronologically-mixed, it's edited with jarring, rapid cuts and many scenes that are mere seconds long. It's already a complex, criss-crossing story, so there's plenty to keep track of even when told in a straightforward manner. I think that the original editing technique, regardless of its intention, really does cover up the story's lack of depth by just making you focus on piecing together the narrative.

I wrote longer thoughts on the film itself, and how it works better in this version, here:
The long and short of it is though, that this is absolutely a better way to watch the film. The editor has restructured it to keep the spirit of you not fully-knowing the events until some characters cross over later, but this time it has more impact (no pun intended) due to you knowing about the lives of those characters beforehand. You know what there is to be lost. This is a more immersive way to watch the film, and allows you to focus on the great performances instead of being so plot-focused.

That said, there are still barriers in the edit. The editor couldn't work with material that wasn't there, and the original cut features abrupt scene transitions and rough visuals. So here, too, the visual quality is not great, the audio transitions have a few abrupt moments, and scenes can be very short and move to something else in rather a jarring way. I think the editor did a great job with the material available (although the file size on this reveals an opportunity to do a higher-fidelity version) but it is a real limitation.

The restructuring and all the cuts and arrangements are great , EXCEPT the editor notes they "removed Jack returning to the motel from work and Paul saying hello to him". As I understood it, this is how Jack figures out later that Paul wasn't just following him, but was actually staying at the hotel. Without this scene, the fanedit has a plot hole in that Jack seems to come out of nowhere at the end, for no reason. (Nevermind that you could argue in the original film it doesn't make much sense for them to say at the hotel anyway!)

I think I feel closest to the sentiments that l8wrtr expressed in their review below about this edit. It allows for more investment in characters, is actually more hopeful, and more meaningful. It revealed to me however that the film may just not be to my tastes, a film that's arguably pretentious and hiding behind artifice instead of offering any real insight to the human condition. The characters' motivations often don't make much sense, as is much clearer in this cut, and we simply have to shrug and say "well, they're flawed people who make horrible choices". I always wonder when I watch these kind of critically lauded films, "How did these people live to be as old as they are only to spectacularly self-destruct as soon as one bad thing happens to them?" The contrivance belies that fact that people overcome traumatic life events all the time.

Personal tastes aside though, for sure there is an audience for this film. And when you're going to watch, this is the way to watch it!

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