Over the course of the past number of years when discussing film with anyone, be it friends or acquaintances, we often lament the sad state of the industry and how there isn't anything original being released anymore. We are constantly bombarded with reboots, remakes, sequels and uninspired adaptations, so it is extremely exciting and refreshing when a film comes along that alters our perception of what film can be. Cloud Atlas is such a film.
Cloud Atlas is like nothing I imagined it would be and everything I hoped that it could be. It is an extraordinary film filled with big ideas, grand ambition and enormous scope. I assure you that you have not seen anything like it in quite some time, if ever. Now I must warn you however that this is not a film that you can just simply watch and enjoy. It must be experienced, pondered and digested. You may find yourself still thinking about it days after you've seen it and trying to piece things together and analyzing the meaning behind some of it. I happen to love that aspect of the film. The fact that I can't shake it off tells me that it was very effective and memorable. Isn't that what we're pining for in our cinematic experiences? I know I most definitely am. I want a film that can not only stimulate my visual and auditory senses but my mind and heart as well. Cloud Atlas succeeds on all fronts.
Based on a dense novel by David Mitchell, the film is co-written and co-directed by Lana and Andy Wachowski (The Matrix Trilogy, Speed Racer) and Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run, Heaven, Perfume: Story of a Murderer), and it features a tremendous ensemble cast that includes Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Ben Whishaw, Jim Sturgess, Hugo Weaving, Hugh Grant, Doona Bae, James D'Arcy, Keith David and Susan Sarandon.
In order to break down and describe the plot of Cloud Atlas to you it would probably require a 1500 word essay so suffice it to say I'm not about to attempt that. I will tell you that the film contains 6 different stories that span throughout time and that many of the actors appear in multiple roles along the way. The separate stories are set in 1849, 1936, 1973, 2012, 2144 and the distant future which is listed as 106 winters after The Fall, or approximately 300 years from now. It incorporates a multitude of genres including science fiction, drama, comedy, romance, action-adventure and mystery. There is literally something in this film for everyone no matter where your interests lie. This is a film about metaphysical ideas and it brings with it inquiries into philosophy, religion, déjà vu, destiny, fate, karma, reincarnation and cosmic forces. I personally didn't get too caught up in trying to dissect the meaning of it all and what certain things are metaphors for. I looked at it as a film about love, compassion and the interconnectivity of humans all over the world. As one character states, "you are nothing but a tiny drop in a vast ocean" and another replies, "what is an ocean but a multitude of drops." All human beings are bound to one another - past, present and future - in such a way that the fact that we ever set foot on this earth will have a ripple effect on the world for all of eternity.
Cloud Atlas is a monumental achievement in filmmaking with its spectacular visuals, splendid performances and interconnecting storylines that I found to be endlessly compelling. It took me on a journey where I never knew what would be around the next corner and I was not bored for a second of its 163 minute long running time. This is most definitely a film that demands repeated viewings though in order to fully absorb all of the wonders contained within.
I urge anyone who is clamouring for something different and original and is tired of the same old Hollywood drivel that keeps getting churned out to please seek this film out in the theater. It demands being seen on a big screen. Open your minds and hearts and allow this film to work its magic on you. I think it will play differently to each individual and be a very personal experience.
For me, Cloud Atlas is a special film that blew my mind in many different ways and made me ponder many aspects of life and the nature of existence. I can't wait to experience this journey again. I absolutely loved it!
I sincerely hope that audiences everywhere will support this visionary film in order to encourage the industry to keep making intellectually and spiritually satisfying cinema. This one's quite something folks.
I give Cloud Atlas a 10 out of 10.