Not many films can take a gritty subject, tell it in a series of harsh flashbacks, film it with a bleak landscape and make it work. Director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu accomplishes this great task with the help of immensely talented actors like Naomi Watts, Sean Penn and Benicio Del Toro. Del Toro is frightening as the hard edged born-again Christian who accidentally commits the worst of crimes. Watts is heartbreaking as the victim who buries her sorrows in drugs and alcohol. Penn excels in subtly as the man who receives Watts deceased husbands heart and falls in love with her. It's almost too much emotion to take in at once. All three actors are at their peak and Inarritu plays them off eachother without pretense or falsehood. Each character is decisively different yet all have one horrible thing in common. Inarritu tells this tale in an original, highly edited manner with flashbacks and foreshadowing that never confuses. The film is actually amazingly interesting in its ability to keep scenes tight and emotions as raw as possible. It is a rare achievement and this film would have received more accolades if the material were simply more upbeat. That's a tragedy in itself.