Picks and Pans Review: Adriana Barraza

updated 11/13/2006 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/13/2006 AT 01:00 AM EST

BABEL'S BREAKOUT

Sure, Brad Pitt draws a few more paparazzi, but he isn't the only actor in Babel attracting attention for a nail-bitingly intense performance. As Amelia, a well-meaning nanny who whisks the children in her care off on a perilous trip to Tijuana, Mexican-born TV actress and acting teacher Adriana Barraza has critics raving. Barraza, 50, gained 30 lbs. ("to make my face look more innocent, more like a child," she says) and spent hours braving the wilds of a Mexican desert. "At night the coyotes were howling," she says. "It was scary!" But there were some highlights, namely a heartrending scene with Pitt. Says Barraza: "I can say proudly that Brad Pitt cried in my ear."

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