A movie that makes you want to read the book – just so you might have a chance of finding out what in the world is going on… Yep, that’s Cloud Atlas.
This is a long film, at 172 minutes it’s a pretty long slog and for about 160 minutes of that I basically had no idea what the film was about. Which inevitably is kind of annoying, no matter how beautiful the camera shots are and how well acted and interesting individual storylines are. I mean, I knew the tagline was “everything is connected” and it’s quite clear that the same actors are playing characters throughout all the stories but that didn’t really help the film make sense or have a point…apart from “everything is connected“.
I can see how all this would make a pretty good book as you explore characters and repeated events but it felt like this needed to be further developed into maybe an 8 hour TV series or a mini-series. I really think it was a mistake to try to contain this much story in a movie.
I adore the Wachowski’s movies in general. I even like Jupiter Ascending and I liked Cloud Atlas but it just never quite reached any highs or the high silliness of Jupiter Ascending. The Wachowski’s never do anything by halves though and Cloud Atlas is no different in that regard. I just wish I could have seen some sense a bit earlier instead of just feeling like I was watching disparate stories evolving in very small ways for such a long time.
Also I couldn’t really cope at all with the clearly “asianed” actors that populated the New Seoul storyline. I mean it’s the future, just havewhite folks or Koreans (radical!) with interesting future haircuts living in New Seoul. The actors just looked terrible. It was another mistake I think.
Adding to my list of mistakes was the use of the neo-English in the far future scenes. It was just impossible to understand – it needed subtitles. Using some neo-English would have sufficed but having far future Tom Hanks narrating in that language was really jarring and didn’t help at all with having a clue what might be going on.
Then there was the religious aspect that turned out was really the basis of everything. The reincarnation kind of religion based on love with the same “souls” (New Seoul – get it!?!) reoccurring in peoples lives. Interesting, no doubt, but it took too long to get there and by the time I worked it out I kind of didn’t care.
So, redeeming features were the action sequences and some pretty self-referential inside jokes as well as some really good acting (not so much Tom Hanks and Halle Berry unfortunately – but that’s probably because they were stuck trying to speak neo-English – not good). It was fun catching the actors made up in different genders and cultures but I suppose that was a bit weird too when you think about the current discussion of cultural appropriation and also how bad the white actors in New Seoul make-up looked. But I don’t really know how you could make it clear that souls were being attracted to the same souls over and over again in a movie anyway.
Time to read the book I think.