Cloud Atlas: The Play’s the Thing

Cloud Atlas is fantastically entertaining. Bold, ambitious, well-acted and fun. The movie rolls along for nearly 3 hours at a breathtaking clip involving the viewer in stories that span several ages of man. In what must have been extraordinarily challenging, the filmmakers wove the film together bouncing among six different stories connected by one theme: Your past lives inform your next.

Critics are giving this film mixed reviews, which I don’t quite understand. So I ask them: how would you take a novel like David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, which was deemed impossible to translate into film, and create as compelling an experience as the Wachowski siblings and Tom Twyker did? Many of them are complaining that the actors are used over many roles. I personally loved the fact that during the film you kept wondering if that was really Hugo Weaving, or Hugh Grant, or Halle Berry gender and race bending to fill the needs of the story. They forget that this is a device used in the theater quite often, particularly in plays telling panoramic stories. And what fun for the actors? I haven’t enjoyed Tom Hanks in a film in years, but here he is masterful moving through his disparate characters. Halle Berry is particularly good in a seventies story-line involving malfeasance in a burgeoning nuclear world. And Jim Broadbent – what a thrill to watch him have so much fun with his characters of a misbegotten publisher and a megalomaniac of a washed up composer.

The visuals are stunning as well. See it in IMAX if you can, or on the largest screen possible. The soundtrack ramps up the emotion without overdoing it and the editing is simply stunning. I can’t even imagine what those editing sessions must have been like pulling the film together in a way that keeps an audience enthralled for three hours.

This was a hugely ambitious film to undertake, and for that the filmmakers should be applauded. It is no wonder they had such a hard time finding financing, but the high stakes were well worth it, because films like this, that don’t lean on superheroes or orgies of violence, don’t come around very often.

Cloud Atlas is the best film of the year so far for its audacity and for it being such a pleasure to experience.

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2 thoughts on “Cloud Atlas: The Play’s the Thing

  1. It’s not one of those movies that you watch and it makes you sob all-over-the-place, it’s more of the kind of film that has you interested right off the start, keeps that interest, and delivers pretty well. Not perfect, but still a good way to spend 3 hours at the movies. Nice review.

  2. As I was watching this movie, the Oscars came to mind. Great movie, but I’ll have to watch it at least one more time if not more. I agree with all you mention in your article. Good post. I don’t understand the “mixed reviews” from the critics. What were they expecting?

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