Ain’t Sky High!
Review: Adapted from David Mitchell’s acclaimed 2004 novel, Cloud Atlas tells the tale of six stories over 3 long hours. Most of which would be considered fairly ordinary but when they’re chopped up and swirled together, some of you will find it hypnotic, others incomprehensible. This “visionary” mind fogging film, co-directed by Andy and Lana (nee Larry) Wachoski (yup, their last big movie was The Matrix), and Tom Tykwer (one-hit art-house wonder, Run Lola Run in 1998), is entertaining and engaging with a dreamy starcast that’s made to play multiple roles like a dress-up game!
The narrative is definitely out of the box, juggled with tricky skill and executed as different genres then all wrapped up together – half a millennium of world history unfolds with past, present and future interlaced – yes, that will have you hooked – and all human experiences connected for the pursuit of freedom, art & love. So, each hero battles oppression and corruption. The Matrix six times over in different eras, rebels uniting across time. A post apocalyptic world where Tom Hanks, a nervous & guarded goat herder with tattoos, serves as a guide to being (Halle Berry) who looks like she’s straight out of Star Wars. A fascist future set in a dark Blade Runner version of Korea, is hauntingly plastic-perfect with a revolutionary tale that’s strong enough to stand on its own. Hugo Weaving plays a villain in every age ranging from a cold-hearted Korean consumerist to an androgynous female nurse. In 1849, a lawyer (Jim Sturgess) befriends a slave (David Gyasi) while sick with a strange illness courtesy his gold-digging doctor (Hanks)! In 1936, a young composer is in love with Sixsmith (James D’Arcy) but runs away to work on his “Cloud Atlas” sextet. Forward to 1970s San Francisco, a much older Sixsmith hold the key to a massive nuclear power plant conspiracy. You draw connections between the tales with the recurring motif of the comet-shaped birthmark to suggest the continuity of a single soul across all the eras and a secret that’s passed along time (I won’t give it all away here).
Some stuff will be right in your face and you’ll link it all up but the sheer scope of the source material is so much that most will be missed unless you pay close attention. The first hour is gripping as you discover all the roles and stories but in the second act you get impatient – now what is it you want to say? It’s all very “important” and secretive and so confusing that you just give up. I’ll probably watch it a second time around, not because I liked but to figure why I didn’t.
The actors are fantastic. Grant is good in his cameos. Roles are all challenging as they cross race, gender, age—everything! They are cast without discrimination.
You’ll either be up in Cloud Atlas reveling in each century as the connections slowly unfold or be impatient. I was both. The movie didn’t work for me but I’m fascinated as to why.
Verdict: Six convoluted stories to cloud your brain!
Cast & Crew: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, Hugh Grant, Jim Sturgess, Susan Sarandon, Ben Whishaw, Jim Broadbent
Director: Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski
Music: Tom Tykwer, Reinhold Heil, Johnny Klimek
Length: 2 hrs 44 mins
Writer: Lana Wachowski, Andy Wachowski, Tom Tykwer and David Mitchell