Original films are few and far between these days. “Looper” notwithstanding, the box office hasn’t had much in the fresh and new department. Despite being based on the book of the same, “Cloud Atlas” is a sprawling epic that breathes new life in to film.
“Cloud Atlas” is a multi-narrative film that encompasses many centuries, from the 1800s to thousands of years into our future. Rather than a complicated plot summary that will only pale to the actual film’s story, it simply must be discovered to be appreciated. Starring Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Sturgess, and Jim Broadbent, “Atlas” weaves the narratives into a large canvas connected by the most intricate and subtle forms. One character in one narrative reads a book by the lead of another; actors from one storyline appear in multiple tales as different characters, etc. Tying it all together is the theme of humanity. Its importance is so essential to the film working it becomes personified as an unseen narrator and interloper.
The film’s story as a whole is breathtaking. The ability to create a dense yarn on the big screen requires more than just the usual Hollywood process. Funding its $100 million budget independently of the studios sets the film alongside passion project of yesteryear like “Titanic” and “Dances with Wolves.” With three directors running two separate film crews, being behind the scenes had to have been as epic as the finished product. Directors Lana and Andy Wachowski (“The Matrix” trilogy) and Tom Tykwer (“Run Lola Run”) have worked diligently and it has paid off. “Cloud Atlas” is a masterpiece.
In lieu of dumbing the script and dialogue down to appeal to all audiences, the complexity remains intact. Though this will turn some off, the smart delivery rewards the viewer similar to the density of films like “Inception” or “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.” Though I’ve only seen it once so far, each repeat viewing will give me more details and bring me into its world. Advertisements and previews focused on the stunning visuals. This technique kept the film shrouded in mystery and painted the film as an experience.
In every way, it succeeds. I haven’t seen make-up or costuming this sharp since “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” Come Oscar season, it deserves to be heaped with nominations, and multiple wins. If this film doesn’t garner nods for make-up, costume, script, and direction (and possibly picture), I’ll be even more heartbroken than when “Warrior” ended up shut out of the Best Picture race.
This film, “Cloud Atlas,” is absolute brilliance. The three hours fly by as we venture into multiple lands and worlds and discover we love each of them. One of the best films of the year, I can’t state this enough. If you like substance with your films, I’ll see you at the next showing. 5 out of 5 stars
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