A cinematic extravaganza at an estimated cost of $100 million that has been generating much controversial discussion, as well as a serious Oscar buzz (certainly for best visual effects) since its premier at this year’s Toronto Film Festival. Based on David Mitchell’s 2004 “un-filmable” (So when does that stop anybody?) literary opus, CLOUD ATLAS is an arduous journey indeed. Love it or hate it, few are indifferent.
To say the movie is non-linear would be putting it mildly. In almost 3 full hours of screen time, six different stories – at least – leap back and forth across the globe and the centuries: from 19th century slave vessel to the dystopian world of 2346.
A true screenwriting/directing collaboration, the MATRIX duo – formerly known as the Wachowski Brothers (now Andy and Lana, make of that what you will) joined forces with Tom Tykwer (RUN LOLA RUN) and combined Tykwer’s team from PERFUME and THE INTERNATIONAL with the MATRIX crew. It is, in fact, one of the few films in history that has three directors working together as an original team who equally share directing credit.
The star talent, headed by Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant, Jim Broadbent, and Susan Sarandon, had a whale of a time playing a multitude of roles – not dictated by age, race, or gender. That being said, the makeup and prosthetics department alone is Oscar-worthy for doing an incredible job at disguising these people. I did not know who I was watching half the time, and was truly surprised when “all was revealed” in the closing credits.
The premise, as well as the slogan – as in Mitchell’s novel – is that “Everything Is Connected”. That’s as may be, but any links to be found in the movie are tenuous at best and I, for one, found this ambitious attempt seriously confusing. I would love to give you a synopsis, dear readers, but I personally couldn’t make head or tail of it. And once I stopped trying to work out any logical connections between the stories and characters, I enjoyed the sumptuous settings and sheer scope of the film’s vision immensely. CLOUD ATLAS is opulent cinema and true art – and possibly best enjoyed after smoking some weed.
CLOUD ATLAS (Germany/UK/Spain, 2012); Distributor: Warner Bros; Running time: 172 mins; US Release: 26th October/German release date: 15th November; Writers/Directors: Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer and Andy Wachowski; Novel: David Mitchell; Cast: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant,.Jim Broadbent, Hugh Weaving, Susan Sarandon, Jim Sturgess, Ben Wishaw; Rated R (or violence, language, sexuality/nudity and some drug use).