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'Babel' Weaves a Story Out of Noise, Desperation

The latest film from Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga (Amores Perros and 21 Grams) follows multiple story lines that span three continents.

The threads include a young deaf Japanese girl struggling to recover from her mother's death; the shooting of an American tourist in Morocco; and the relationship between a Mexican woman and the two American children she cares for.

The film reveals the connections between its characters -- and, as the title suggests, the difficulties they have in communicating.

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Bob Mondello
Bob Mondello, who jokes that he was a jinx at the beginning of his critical career — hired to write for every small paper that ever folded in Washington, just as it was about to collapse — saw that jinx broken in 1984 when he came to NPR.