Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Cloud Atlas (Germany/USA/Hong Kong/ Singapore; Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski & Tom Tykwer, 2012)

     This clearly is one ambitious movie. It makes me wish I had read the book beforehand so I could truly know just how ambitious the filmmakers were. Considering the wider scope of the novel format, one can assume that David Mitchell's book contains even more information than the cinematic adaptation, which is already heavily packed as it is. So much so that three directors were needed to handle the complicated logistics involved. Furthermore, in an attempt to reinforce the interconnection between the several narratives (6), the film stretches the limits of acting versatility by casting the same performers in widely different roles. Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, Doona Bae, Jim Sturgess, Jim Broadbent and Hugh Grant, to name a few, all play various characters that not only exist decades apart, but also within several layers of storytelling, such as a movie or a book, that are present in the main narrative(s). Without going into the specifics of the narratives themselves, it is interesting to see how one narrative feeds off the other, the connections between time, space and man progressively becoming clearer as the film unfolds, creating some kind of 'slipping' effect that seems to break apart the singularity of each story. This 'slip' is also evident through the make-up work done on the actors. While it is possible that the filmmakers intended the audience not to recognize the disguised actors, I believe that the resemblance of the actor from one character to another reinforces the connection between said characters and the stories in which they figure. In other words, I believe the recognition of actor duplication was intentional (if not, then the transformation of Doona Bae into both a Mexican woman and a Victorian American housewife leaves much to desire) and crucial to the film's projected wholeness. Brilliantly handled in the hands of the Wachowski siblings and Tom Tykwer (quite a team-up), Cloud Atlas is worth seeing if only for of its refreshing creativity and storytelling sophistication, not to mention the always-refined photography and entertaining performances. Whether you believe in its ideas or not, Cloud Atlas rewards those patient souls who are willing to be whisked away by its all-encompassing symphony.

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