Directed by: Lana Wachowski, Andy Wachowski, & Tom Tykwer
Based On Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
Starring: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Bae Doona, Ben Whishaw, Susan Sarandon, James D'arcy, & Hugh Grant
Studio: Cloud Atlas Production, X-Filme Creative Pool, Anarchos Production
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Cloud Atlas could be viewed as 6 separate stories if it were not for the skilled penmanship of the Wachowskis, Tom Tykwer, and original author, David Mitchell. Their ability to pull trinkets, themes, ideals and narrative out of each story and thread them together into a singular tale of human relationships is remarkable. Each tale transports the audience to a new location, a new time, with a dazzling new cast of characters, each similar to the last set but still unique in their own roles. The actors, each playing as many as 6 characters throughout the total film, do more than their share of bringing each of the stories to life with a full appreciation for the genre that the story is set in. From start to finish, the film integrates jaw-dropping, high-tech imagery with top-notch music and sound editing. The film is the highest-budgeted independent film of all time and it shows.
The story of Cloud Atlas is split into six parts. In The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish, we see an off-beat comedy while Sloosha’s Crossin’ an’ Ev’rythin’ After can be considered a post-apocalyptic sci-fi drama where governed order and written language are dead. Obversely, The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing is a riveting period piece on slavery and friendship while Letters From Zedelghem is a love tragedy, with one character bleeding into the 1970’s mystery story Half-Lives: The First Luisa Rey Mystery. Then there was my personal favorite, An Orison Of Somni ~ 451, a future set in Seoul (now called Neo-Seoul), where class systems have arisen from both the rising waters of global climate change as well as the development of cloning.
The Wachowski’s may have finally gotten out from under the shadow of The Matrix. It may not be the amazing, box-office killing, record-setting film they had perhaps hoped for, or that some may have hoped for them. However; the film has its own legs, free of any connection to their previous work and it really exists in its own unique bubble. To simply label it as a movie about “reincarnation” is seriously underselling the efforts of the writers and directors. There is depth to this film that cannot be simplified into a review or critique, not without the reader having seen the film.
There is little left to be desired, no loose ends to speak of and certainly no holes in the plot or at the very least, none so noticeable they are worth mentioning. The acting is tremendous, Hanks creates a series of riveting performances, stretching his ability with accents, as he has never done before on the big screen. Hugo Weaving, everyone’s favorite villain, makes a snatch at stealing each scene while Ben Whishaw and Jim Sturgess do the real stealing. The ever lovely and gifted Halle Berry shines in each of the stories, providing strong performances that are memorable and even awardable. Bae Doona, James D’arcy and Jim Broadbent will probably be the unsung heroes of this film. Each of their characters were solid and believable. Bae was gorgeous as her role as Som’ni, a breathtaking performance that has a heart-shattering revelation.
The highs and the lows of this film are to be noted. Sheer joy, giggling fits, disgust at the malice shown by certain characters and comfort by the selflessness of others, every moment of this film throws the audience into a new direction, emotionally. If you miss this movie, it truly is your loss. Check it out in IMAX theaters or just in regular screenings if you so choose, but do so quick. As it is an independent film and so sharply standing out from the normal, mainstream type film, this movie is sure not to be in theaters long. Bring a popcorn bag, maybe a box of tissues, and be sure to bring an open mind. Cloud Atlas certainly rises above the norm.