Cloud Atlas is a recent visionary film directed by brother and sister Andy and Lana Wachowski (The Matrix Trilogy) and Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run). At first watch, you know this film has something working on a deeper level, but you can’t figure out what that is just yet. Cloud Atlas will be a film that audiences and critics will want to watch multiple times and create multiple theories of meaning. This film is impossible to completely take in during one viewing. Cloud Atlas is a mixed bag of elaborate techniques and feelings, leaving the audience with multiple questions and concerns.
During the first part of Cloud Atlas, the audience finds themselves in complete confusion and disbelief as they are taken through a twisted tale of six separate, yet completely connected stories. Each scene jumps a period in time to another story as each of the six progresses on their own. On top of the chaos, a handful of A-list Hollywood actors play a different character in each story; each dressed up in ridiculous costumes and makeup, and using a slightly different voice or accent. Cloud Atlas takes you from a boat voyage in the Pacific Ocean in the 1850s, to a musician living in Belgium in 1931, to a journalist working in California in 1975, to a 65 year old man in the early 21st century UK, to a dystopian future somewhere in Korea, and finally, to a post-apocalyptic distant future set somewhere in Hawaii. All of the stories feature a general theme of oppression and the overcoming of some obstacle. The characters in each story are connected with each other in some way, and ultimately everything in each story comes together in the end, but with everything happening you are left with mixed feelings of puzzlement and admiration for what the film is trying to do.
Cloud Atlas features Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Ben Whishaw, Susan Surandon, Hugh Grant, and a number of other amazing actors. This movie leaves you thinking about so many different parts of the film at once. The audience is already perplexed and curious about the separate stories, but you are also taken in by the appearance and performance by each actor in each story. Cloud Atlas utilizes almost every genre, leaving you unsure which emotion applies as you dart from scene to scene. The film is definitely comical, but I’m not sure if I was laughing more at the humor intended or the actors and characters themselves. It may be possible that this story was too complex of an idea to turn into a film, but I applaud them for trying. Cloud Atlas will definitely be highly criticized, both good and bad, and most likely will be considered for awards on all levels.
If it isn’t clear by now, I thoroughly enjoyed this film. As mentioned, Cloud Atlas leaves you with a melting pot of emotions, questions, and stories, which will require another look, but overall I tip my hat to the creators of this film. Cloud Atlas is 2 hours and 52 minutes, which started to feel too long, but in the end, this could be the quickest-longest movie I have ever seen. Cloud Atlas is rated R for violence, language, sexuality/nudity and some drug use. You don’t need to rush to see this film, but people will definitely be talking about it. I rate this film a 3.8 out of 5 stars and recommend Cloud Atlas to anyone who enjoys a wild adventure involving many genres, is looking for something very different, or who is a fan of any of the actors that grace this film.
By: Hayden Pittman, Film Critic for YouPlusDallas
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