Films | Cloud Atlas – Movie Review

Cloud Atlas – Movie Review

Posted by FATEMA H.KAGALWALA on October 28, 2012 | No Comments

PRODUCER – Grant Hill, Stefan Arndt, Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski

DIRECTOR – Tom Tykwer, Lana Wachowski, Andy Wachowski

WRITER – Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski (Based on the novel ‘Cloud Atlas’ by David Mitchell)

CAST – Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Doona Bae, Ben Whishaw, James D’Arcy, Keith David, Susan Sarandon, Hugh Grant

MUSIC – Reinhold Heil, Johnny Klimek, Tom Tykwer

Beyond the dimension we perceive as reality, time is cyclical. So is life. David Mitchell’s ambitious novel of the same theme finds cinematic representation in this Wachowski and Tom Tykwer adaptation.

Faithful to the book, the film takes wildly different six stories set in different times and continents, and merges them together through a disjointed narrative. There is an investigative reporter in the midst of a corrupt nuclear power project, a publisher jailed in an old-age home, a genetically modified ‘diner server’ seeking freedom, a post-apocalyptic duo creating their own fate, a ship-wrecked mariner struggling for life and a rogue musician making his life’s masterpiece. Their journeys intersect through time and destiny unveiled to each via chance encounters connected by the thread of karma.

A saga of humanity’s existence, the film (like the book) explores the truth behind our lives using the metaphors of ascent and descent to manifest the rise and fall of man. Through all its stories, it centers itself in the power-hungry and predatory nature of man. It takes several leaps of imagination, imbuing the future with an extreme technological advancement. The stories of Sonmi, the genetically modified server and post-apocalypse Zachry and Meronym, showcase an unbounded imagination that stays rooted in the exploration of its themes.

Massively ambitious, the film is mounted on a visual and narrative scale that is experimental and mind-bending. The non-linear narrative jumps back and forth through linear stories and nests them within each other to serve as their introduction. It speaks with a grave voice that engulfs and keeps us enthused to watch the threads unravel themselves and the dots to join.

Watching the same actors (brilliant performances by Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant, Hugo Weaving, Ben Wishaw, Jim Broadbent, Jim Sturgess) as different characters that are not imaginary can be confounding. Genders and nationalities aren’t a barrier here with men playing women, South-Asian and African actors playing Caucasian parts and vice-versa. Elaborate prosthetics come handy but look artificial and performances at times peter into caricature. Needless to say, it is a challenge to decode the connection between their past lives and present relationships. The film provides no easy answers, merely the same faces and a mark that travels unchanged through time.

Majestic and magnificent, Cloud Atlas looms large with its expansive narrative. Weaving six stories of multiple encounters with reincarnated characters played by same actors, it presents an exciting experience. It goads us to bend our minds and delve deep into the cyclical karma that generated their beings over time. It makes for a heavy watch, even taxing our patience at times. But it makes great fodder for thought, much like Wachowski’s Matrix. There is mood, ambiance and a gravelly wisdom the film spews throughout with the former gaining more weightage unfortunately. But it is an epic – about life’s lessons, reasons and mysteries, none of which are handed out on a platter. Much like life itself. And probably there lies its true delight.

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