It has been four years since we have seen the Wachowskis. And a lot has changed for the creators of the “Matrix trilogy”. Their last collaboration was the giant box office bomb, “Speed Racer”, back in 2008 and Larry Wachowski is now Lana Wachowski. And “Cloud Atlas” is the first film where Lana is actually credited. It is an interesting film to signify that amount of change in one human being’s journey.
Across centuries, “Cloud Atlas” follows the various reincarnations of thirteen individuals as they change and morph throughout history. The central theme is how can one great idea change humanity for the better through evolution and revolution. And how we are destined to meet the same people lifetime after lifetime.
Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant, Hugo Weaving and others play different incarnations as they follow the movie’s vast journey. They switch race, status, age and even sex. This is very interesting for an actor as you get to play several different characters in one project.
The makeup, cinematography and direction is astonishing. But it is an extremely hard film to navigate. It is basically a hugely expensive indie film experiment. You almost have to trust your gut and feelings to really get absorbed in the film. There is hardly an cohesion here and sometimes the film jumps around so much that you become lost in a matter of seconds.
The most interesting thing about the film I found was watching how each actor adapts. How they are able to adjust their comfort level is a sign of just how good of an actor they are.
Take Tom Hanks for example, he has won two Oscars for two vastly different portrayals. But here he does really explode in some characters but has a hard time in others. Like the aggressive character he plays is really difficult to believe even when he does something entirely evil. The movie also reminded me just how good Halle Berry can be when she wants to. Jim Sturgess is another actor who does really well especially the Asian character he plays in the far future.
My favorite performance in the film was from South Korean sensation Doona Bae. She is brilliant and only really plays the future’s Sonmi-451, which is a lovely tragic character.
“Cloud Atlas” is a muddled and hard to absorb. But still it is an experiment worth exploring as a viewer. Just don’t be afraid to admit you were lost or bored because you are getting bombarded with endless images.
3.5 out of 5
So Says the Soothsayer
SPECIAL NOTE: Here is the timeline and all the characters the actors played thanks to the folks at Cinemablend.