Everyone’s emotionally disconnected from everyone else in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Babel, but like the director’s prior two efforts (Amores Perros and 21 Grams), every storyline and every incident is also inextricably interconnected. Screenwriting gimmickry increasingly seems to be Iñarritu’s primary stock and trade, his desire to link apparently unrelated narratives so contrived and so tired that it overshadows both his heartfelt depictions of human suffering and his cinematographic skill at capturing misery through stark, unsteady close-ups. In his latest attempt at coincidence-laden storytelling, strained American couple Richard (Brad Pitt) and Susan (Cate Blanchett) find themselves in crisis when, while traveling in Morocco, Susan is hit by a stray bullet, an act of violence perpetrated by the two young boys of a sheep-herding family. Meanwhile, their Mexican nanny (Adriana Barraza), intent on attending her son’s wedding, surreptitiously takes the two young children in her care over the border with the help of an untrustworthy nephew (Gael García Bernal), and in Tokyo, a deaf-mute schoolgirl (Rinko Kikuchi) and her estranged father (Koji Yakusho) find their own distraught lives affected by Richard and Susan’s predicament. Superficially disparate, these three tales – all fraught with socio-economic tensions – are each eventually revealed to be just like the other, with most every character burdened by detachment and/or distress. Yet there isn’t a second when Iñárritu’s film feels as if it’s replicating life’s coincidental nature; rather, it just comes off as another of his beautifully shot, evocatively scored multi-character ventures in which his sincere interest in probing grief and tragedy – an interest which, admittedly, is explored via wrenching but dramatically artificial and/or histrionic scenarios – takes a back seat to his pseudo-profound, oh-so-convenient plot manipulations.