Release date: October 26, 2012
Written and Directed by: Lana Wachowski & Tom Tykwer & Andy Wachowski
Based on the novel by: David Mitchell
Cast: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Doona Bae, Ben Whishaw, James D’Arcy, Susan Sarandon, Hugh Grant
Rating: R; Running Time: 172 minutes
It’s not that Cloud Atlas isn’t ambitious. Or sprawling, or visually arresting – or even, with its smart segues sliding from one timeframe to another, downright clever. But while each of the six chapters swirls and morphs and dances around the others, at the end of three hours, it’s hard to resist thinking, “Is that all there is?”
Given that the opening monologue is spoken in pidgin English by a one-eyed oldster covered in battlescars and latex (Tom Hanks’ Zachry), followed by snapshots from a multiplicity of timeframes, the movie’s introductory scenes may seem somewhat challenging. But we soon learn that we’re viewing a kaleidoscope of stories spanning five centuries. In 1849, a young American lawyer (Jim Sturgess’ Adam) takes ill during a return sea voyage from the Pacific Islands; in 1936, a penniless British composer (Ben Whishaw’s Frobisher) travels to Scotland to write his opus, “The Cloud Atlas Sextet,” while apprenticing himself to a onetime renowned septuagenarian composer (Jim Broadbent’s Ayrs); in 1973, an idealistic San Francisco journalist (Halle Berry’s Luisa) stumbles into corporate corruption involving oil and nuclear power; in 2012, a small-time UK publisher named Cavendish (Broadbent, again), fleeing from a murderous thug, checks into a hotel only to find that he’s been imprisoned in a retirement home; in 2144, a clone named Sonmi-451 (Doona Bae) is one of an army of compliant restaurant servers working in a totalitarian society built atop the ruins of a flooded Seoul; and in 2346, a primitive civilization that survived “the Fall” defends itself from vicious neighboring tribes. The goat herder Zachry prefers avoidance over confrontation … but when a Prescient named Meronym (Halle Berry) arrives from another civilization in need of help, Zachry half-heartedly complies.
Written and directed by a trio of filmmakers who concurrently directed the shoot from Germany and Scotland (cutting the production time in half, from six months to three), the sheer complexity of accomplishing this project mirrors that of the story. [FOR THE FULL REVIEW + RATING ON FILM SITE DODDLE, PLEASE CLICK HERE]