Sunday, July 30, 2017

Vanilla Sky

Movie Name: Vanilla Sky
Year of Release: 2001
Director: Cameron Crowe
Stars: Tom Cruise, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Jason Lee, Kurt Russell, Noah Taylor, Timothy Spall, Tilda Swinton, Michael Shannon, Shalom Harlow, Johnny Galecki, Delaina Mitchell
Genre: Mystery, Romance
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 5
Watch it on Amazon

After the critical success of "Almost Famous", celebrated director Cameron Crowe returned with a different opus, a remake of the Spanish film "Abre los Ojos" from Alejandro Amenabar. The film follows the story of David Aames, a young and attractive man, who is wealthy and in charge of the reigns of a big magazine in New York City. David is pursued by a beautiful woman by the name of Julie, with whom he has engaged in a episodic affair, something that takes a much secondary interest when he becomes enamored of Sofia, a beautiful Spanish young woman, whom he meets at a party (that she attends with his best friend). This turn of events goes much darker, as Julie becomes obsessed with David. She tries to commit suicide, taking David alongside with her in her car. Though he survives the event, his face is quite disfigured, and he resorts to wearing a mask to overcome those problems. Though he has his face reconstructed, David starts seeing some odd visions in his daily life, until one day when visiting Sofia, much to his shock and surprise, it's Julie he finds at the apartment. The events spiral out of control from then on, threatening his sanity.
"Vanilla Sky" is an odd film in Cameron Crowe's career. The director has made a trademark for himself by creating films about every day men, who are faced with challenging situations, but who choose to pursue their dreams against all odds (that these men are always surrounded by stunningly beautiful women is just luck of the draw, or good casting options). "Vanilla Sky" is an odd choice for him, since it's a film that basis its premise on the fact that the lead character, and the audience, never really know what is effectively real or if everything that has occurred is simply imagined by him. It's a tricky act to maintain for the entire duration of the film, but as the narrative unfolds, and the pieces start being sorted out, the whole sci-fi aspect of the film doesn't really gel or mesh with the film as a whole. The problem lies in the fact that the film can never get a defined tone - it tries to be a romantic opus about a hedonist who needs to grow up, but also a mystery thriller, and a futuristic parable. Tom Cruise invests all of his energy into this role, as does Cameron Diaz, but it's a film that though beautiful to look at (with cinematography from the fantastic John Toll), it lacks conviction and focus. A missed opportunity from an interesting director.