Sunday, October 28, 2012

Cloud Atlas

Movie Name: Cloud Atlas
Year of Release: 2012
Director: Lilly Wachowski, Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer
Stars: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Ben Wishaw, James D'Arcy, Jim Sturgess, Hugo Weaving, Keith David, Doona Bae, Hugh Grant, Susan Sarandon, David Gyasi, Martin Wuttke, Xun Zhou
Genre: Drama, Thriller, Sci-Fi
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 8

"Cloud Atlas" is a unique project, an adaptation of the stupendous book from David Mitchell, and directed by the trio of Lilly and Lana Wachowski, previously directors of "Bound", "The Matrix" trilogy and "SpeedRacer", and Tom Tykwer, who previously directed "Run Lola Run", "Perfume" and "The International". The film offers the premise that everything and everyone is connected, what we do while we're alive carries itself through times and existence. The film follows six different stories, which are connected by some element which the viewer uncovers as the story progresses. The first story follows Adam Ewing in the 19th century, who is slowly being poisoned by a false doctor who is in fact after his gold. The second story follows Robert Frobisher, a young destitute man, who is forced to leave his lover, due to a poor financial situation. Robert ends up working for an almost retired, but well known composer, to secure his earnings, but also to create his own masterwork. The third story introduces Luisa Rey (in the 1970s), a reporter who ends up uncovering a masterful conspiracy plot surrounding a nuclear power plant on the brink of collapse. Her discoveries put her on a target to be silenced at all costs. The fourth story presents Timothy Cavendish, an editor and publisher, who is on the run from some aggressive money collectors, and who due to the machinations of his brother, ends up being held prisoner in an asylum. The fifth story takes place in the future, in New Seoul, where a race of genetically created women, are specifically assigned managerial tasks. The rebellion in this society wants to expose this new type of slavery. The sixth story, also taking place in the far future, focuses on Zachry, a man who witnessed his father and brother being killed by a rival clan, and lives with the guilt that he did little to help them. He helps a more technologically advanced group who comes to his island for research. Of that group, he particularly focuses on Meronym, who is exploring his world, including the habits of his tribe.
The film is cleverly constructed and built around these different stories, whose tentacles spread and touch each other. The actors are given different parts in the different stories, changing genders, ethnic groups to serve the purpose of the stories and simultaneously add substance to the common thread of perpetuity of actions and their consequences throughout different ages. While each chapter very much functions autonomously, the characters have sufficient dimension which allows us to understand what motivates and propels them to act the way they do. Be it a loving relationship that can't be spoken of, an awakening from a life of servitude, or even a guilty conscience that is suddenly awakened, all these relationships that are illustrated throughout the narrative, eventually bring to life the concept that every action has a consequence, and that we are indeed connected to each other in more ways than one. It's a film with multiple layers, including humorous ones, that makes these situations and characters always engaging. Technically the film is impeccable, from the stunning cinematography from John Toll, to the visual effects, which create futuristic, yet "realistic" areas (reminiscent of Ridley Scott's "Blade Runner" or Steven Spielberg's "AI") , and of course the makeup (which can at times be a bit distracting). This is an ambitious and fantastically crafted film, which maintains the spirit of the book and yet gives it an extra layer due to the interpretation of the directors/writers. Worth watching!