So, I’m a bit late on this post, but there’s a reason for that. A few days ago, I watched the Wachowski’s Cloud Atlas for the first time. And, well, it was something.
Seriously, for a while, I was unable to put into words much about how I felt on this one. The film is so unique, so ambitious, that I had difficulty deciding if I even liked it. Finally, I’ve landed on an answer: yes. Cloud Atlas is a good film. A remarkable one, considering its ambitious narrative and grand scope. The film is epic in every sense of the word. One part sci-fi actioner, one part dystopia fiction, two parts period drama, one part mystery, and one part comedy, certainly makes a fascinating recipe for a distinct product.
The film tells the tales of many individuals, across multiple times, from the 1840’s to the 1930’s, to the 1970’s, to the modern-ish day, to a dystopia future, to an even further dystopia future, as their bonds are explored. An ensemble cast, including the likes of Hugo Weaving, Ben Whishaw, Tom Hanks, and Halle Berry, swap race, gender, and age, as they portray multiple roles across five centuries, in a kind of reincarnation. Their actions connect and reflect across time. Two lovers reunite in the past after their tragic deaths in the future, and so on, and so forth. The ambitious narrative is surprisingly simple to follow, once the initial shock of jumping across such disparate places wears off, and even becomes enjoyable, trying to anticipate where the narrative will flow next.
The performances are impressive, especially for a Wachowski film, though I suspect that the influence of a third director rubbed off on them. Ignoring anything prior to and including The Matrix, this is their only film worth checking out. Their flair for sci-fi is well utilized, though the dystopia future-speak is laughable at times, especially hearing Halle Berry say things like “true-true.”
All in all, however, the Wachowskis are at quite possibly their best in this, even managing to slip their direction past me on one occasion. I was quite shocked in the credits to learn that they had directed the 1840’s segments of the film, as there was little of their trademark awkward line delivery present.
Cloud Atlas is far from a perfect film. It never truly attempts to answer the question of just what the connections between characters mean, or why they’re even present. It kind of glosses over the whole reincarnation thing, with only a throwaway Halle Berry line even bringing it up. Also, at 2 hours 52 minutes, it’s incredibly lengthy for the narrative gimmick present. Some sections of the film are inferior to others, and that aforementioned future-speak can be difficult to understand at times. However, it’s worth checking out, if only for the impressive make-up and versatility in acting present. A solid B+ film.
And there you have it. Cloud Atlas, what a…thingy. Next week, look for another review, but until then, this is That Other Critic, signing off. Later!