Cloud AtlasFeature Film |
Big, bold and beautiful, though a bit verbose.
Inspired by the inclusive themes of David Mitchell's nested novel Cloud Atlas, writer-directors Tom Tykwer, Lana Wachowski and Andy Wachowski, teamed up to make what may be the most ambitious adaptation ever set to screen. Cloud Atlas is a movie about grand ideas captured in a fittingly sizeable scope. Starring an incredible ensemble that includes Tom Hanks, Doona Bae, Ben Whishaw, Keith David, Jim Broadbent, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, James D'Arcy, Susan Sarandon, and Hugh Grant, the film tackles six stories separated by time, space and genre, yet united by themes of human connection, love, redemption, and revolt against oppression. The cast takes on roles within each arc, and it's fun to find them -- often coated in thick prosthetic makeup -- throughout the interwoven narrative. Moreover, it's exhilarating to watch actors play roles well outside their niche -- like Hanks as a British bruiser or Grant as a bloody-mouthed cannibal -- but what's most impressive is how well this mix of genres blends together.
The stories are told simultaneously, deftly leaping from the earnest drama of a 1850s lawyer who befriends a freed slave, to the doomed romance of a 1930s composer, the corporate mystery investigated by a 1970s reporter, the farcical internment of a curmudgeonly publisher in a contemporary old folks home, to a dystopian future where clones are slaves, and far away and fantastical future after the fall of man has incited our end on Earth. The connections are made between the characters arcs, emotions, and epiphanies, which makes the editing style supremely impressive and poignant. The cast, which is essentially asked to be in six films at once, likewise handles these shifts in genre, tone, and character with a magnificent skill and grace. With striking cinematography, awe-inspiring production design, dazzling performances, and some truly stupendous fight choreography that plays out like a violent dance number, Cloud Atlas is astounding.
Though they've changed or flat-out cut many of the details from the novel, Tywker and the Wachowskis made a beautiful and brilliant translation of the spirit and ideas of Mitchell's book. My only major complaint is that the dialogue is recurringly heavy-handed with its various themes, speaking aloud what the story was already expressing eloquently with its visuals. Several characters get long monologues on their personal philosophy, and this spelling out of the film's message undercuts the confidence that is shown in its scale and scope. Nonetheless, the ambition should be admired, even if the execution leaves something to be desired.
|Cloud Atlas trailer|