‘Cloud Atlas’ does it all and more
Published: Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 31, 2012 22:10
Some movies are good because they make you laugh, some because they enthrall you, some because they have something meaningful to say and some for their sheer existence. “Cloud Atlas” fits into the last category, as well as all the others.
“Cloud Atlas” is a masterful epic that touches upon everything that makes a movie great. It contains six individual stories, presented in a nonlinear format, often cutting from one to the next, sometimes every 15 minutes, other times about every five seconds. Each story encompasses a completely different genre of storytelling. There is an 18th century voyage across the pacific, an early 20th century love story, a late 20th century thriller, a modern day British comedy, a futuristic science fiction piece and a post apocalyptic fantasy. The plot of each story is somewhat simplified to accommodate for the other five, but in a way, that’s a good thing. I’ve seen several other films that try to do something similar but suffer from their own ambition. “Cloud Atlas” finds a happy medium, and as a result, each story is well developed, entertaining, and none stand out as the best or worst.
For the most part, each story features the same actors playing multiple roles, often appearing in forms one wouldn’t expect. Tom Hanks, Jim Broadbent and Halle Berry appear most often, each giving arguably the best performances of their careers.
The rest of the cast is no less excellent, and includes Hugo Weaving, Bae Doona and Keith David. The makeup and costume design used to disguise the recurring performers is phenomenal, and I was surprised when I read through the cast list after the film.
“Cloud Atlas” is also heavy on thematic elements, with the subjects of love, sacrifice and cooperation being contemplated often. They’re brought out through connections in each of the film’s six parts, both visually and verbally. The clues are subtle but not invisible. The film is very engaging and will have you pondering its various details for a good three hours after the credits.
What makes “Cloud Atlas” so amazing is just the fact that it works. It tries to do everything, and it succeeds. The film never becomes confusing; it never gets bogged down in its symbolism, and despite running nearly three hours, it never dragged. The editing is flawless; the visuals are stunning, and the direction by Tom Tykwer (“Run Lola Run”) and The Wachowskis (“The Matrix”) may just be the best in the history of the medium. I’ve had other films touch me deeper emotionally or provide me with more entertainment, but “Cloud Atlas” is such an enormously groundbreaking picture, its power is undeniable.
You should see “Cloud Atlas” for two reasons: First, because it’s one of the best films of the year. Second, because “Cloud Atlas” has raised the bar for filmmaking and will go down as one of the most influential films in history. Thirty years down the line, when hundreds of movies are using its storytelling and directional devices, you will want to know where they all began.