Retro Review: Vanilla Sky

Smooth operator director and writer extraordinaire Cameron Crowe expands his repertoire with a new romantic thriller that centers upon David Aames (Tom Cruise), a rich socialite who isn’t sure if he is dreaming or living his life. Aames is tortured by the thought that his true love, Sofia Serrano (Penelope Cruz), may not be real but the creation of his imagination during his photorealistic dreams. Aames’ friends, Brian (Jason Lee) and Julie (Cameron Diaz), seem to be a part of his dreams as well. Julie harbors a secret desire to make David her soul mate and that luscious desire will prove to be the event that spins David’s world into disaster.

“Vanilla Sky” is the kind of film that audiences will find subtly interesting or extremely annoying. “Sky” is no where near the caliber of a film that the indie hit, Memento was. I would compare it more to the 80’s film “Total Recall” with Arnold Schwarzenegger except substitute the bullets for kisses and flirting.

The film starts out wonderfully as we see inside Aames’ inherited publishing empire and see a fracture of his future. The future scenes with psychiatrist Kurt Russell give us introspective into where David’s life is going and where his threats from within are coming from. I liked how the film releases a hint of where the film is going.

The center of the film will be what audiences will find is the most trying to sit through. If you aren’t pulling your hair out, stamping your feet and screaming at the screen then you are probably one of the few who will find this film subtly interesting.

The amazing aspect of the center part of the film is the performance by Cruise. We probably haven’t seen a performance this engrossing since “Born on the 4th of July”, but it’s just a shame that the film doesn’t support such a performance. If it wasn’t for the disastrous event in David’s life, Cruise wouldn’t have been very interesting to watch.

What is it about Penelope Cruz? I am not fond of her as a solid actress but there is this natural allure about her that is so very captivating. Her demeanor and pure charisma make us fall in love with her with every project she is in. It truly is amazing.

There are events, dialogue and happenings in “Vanilla Sky” that are hokey, science fiction like that will probably bug a lot of people. I love science fiction and I know they bugged me.

The film’s ending is surrounded in this hokey stuff and how can one really immerse himself in doubt if the film makes up our minds for us. This was one aspect that was so clever with “Total Recall” and “Memento”. In those films we made up our own minds but in “Vanilla Sky” it’s in black-and-white and explained.

“Vanilla Sky” was a very trying experience for me and the film definitely isn’t for everyone. There is some interesting dialogue, a couple interesting scenes, it’s nicely directed and Cruise is very good, but the film isn’t cohesive enough to recommend.

(3 out of 5)

So Says the Soothsayer.

One thought on “Retro Review: Vanilla Sky

  1. Crowe had a huge budget, and he uses it gloriously. Although, the ending may be kind of a let-down, I still found myself totally involved with the whole film, and there was just a dream-like state to this film that really had me mesmerized. Good review, check out mine when you can!

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