Head in the Clouds

I'm not even going to attempt to capably sum up Cloud Atlas. In its pre-release phase, critics were all over the map as to how they felt about this adaptation of six interweaving storylines and time periods. I was conflicted to the point that I probably would have let it pass without making an effort to see it. But when a friend called and invited me to go to an IMAX showing, I thought it would be a good idea to see it before too much critical and audience response seeped into my consciousness.

Thank goodness he called. This movie is an incredibly ambitious epic. As I said, six different storylines are explored, each of which employs the same mix of actors, made up to be wildly different characters. White people as Asian people. Black people as Indian people. Asian people as Latina people. Men as women. Women as men.

With a nearly three-hour running time, this movie had the potential to be a bloated, confusing mess. It's definitely got a few issues. The themes are not subtle, and they're often spelled out a little too explicitly. With six stories to tell, it's unavoidable that some will be more successful or more interesting than others. Although I was never bored, you definitely feel the running time (this movie does not fly by like the equally lengthy Dark Knight Rises).

Those issues are minor, though. This is a gorgeous movie, the score is fantastic, and all of the actors are fully invested in all of their roles - I don't think Halle Berry has ever done better work. This is not a movie that will earn blockbuster dollars at the box office, but it's a deep, complex, thoughtful piece of work, and unlike a lot of films I see these days, I'm still thinking about it a day later.

Cloud Atlas: B


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