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Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Review: Cloud Atlas (Tom Tykwer, Lana and Andy Wachowski, 2012)
Have you ever experienced a flash of déjà vu, or feel like your life has been affected by some unexpected karma? Are we all connected to people from the past and do our actions influence the future? These questions (and many more) are tackled by the collaborative team of Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run) and Lana and Andy Wachowski (The Matrix, Speed Racer), whose ambitious large-scale screen adaptation of David Mitchell’s dense, multi-narrative 2004 novel, Cloud Atlas, is a masterful achievement. The film’s four-year journey to the screen was a difficult one, and with the production budget predominantly supplied by independent sources, it is one of the most expensive independent films ever made. Unfortunately, a poor showing at the U.S box office has resulted in a limited Australian release. Though some may find navigating these boldly assembled interweaving of stories frustrating and unmanageable, Cloud Atlas repeatedly rewards patience and becomes a masterfully epic experience that should not be missed.
Cloud Atlas tells six simultaneous stories, and unlike in the novel, where I believe the stories are introduced consecutively and leak into one another, here they are cut together to create the feeling of parallel existence, despite being separated by decades and centuries. What could a San Francisco lawyer journeying through the South Pacific in 1849, a young British composer in 1936, a journalist who stumbles across a conspiracy in 1973, an aging publisher wrongly admitted to a retirement home in 2012, a Neo-Soul clone/liberator in 2144 and a tribesman in an unknown post-apocalyptic future possibly have in common? As we explore each of these fascinating tales, we find not only the same actors appearing in wildly different roles, we watch as each of the characters are met with conflict and antagonism (often unjust authority) and must rely on acts of love, kindness, and bravery to overcome them. Over time, a killer becomes a hero and unlikely friendship inspires a revolution.