“Yesterday, I believe I would never have done what I did today. I feel like something important has happened to me. Is this possible?”
Cast: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry and Hugh Grant
Cloud Atlas is a long, twisting tale consisting of 6 stories, told over a time period from the mid-19th Century to a post-apocalyptic, distant future. Using the belief that one person can impact the life of another in the past, present and future, we are shown an array of different people, each having to deal with a situation related to someone else in a different lifetime.
Based on the novel by David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas was dubbed the ‘unfilmable story’, and given the synopsis, it should be quite clear to see why. Films like this can go one of two ways, either swimmingly well or sink under its own weight. With the bill of actors including the likes of Tom Hanks, Hugo Weaving and Jim Broadbent, it seemed the film was going to fall under the former.
Tom Hanks is obviously the best actor in this line up, and unsurprisingly gives the most consistent performance. With so many different characters in the film each actor played about 4 or 5 people overall, it certainly helped establish who affected who in each era and was a clever way to keep the audience in the loop. Though with this it’s also easy to see who isn’t that great of an actor, Halle Berry springs to mind. She did okay, though I knew not to expect too much from her. Hugo Weaving was brilliant, especially as Tom Hanks’ ‘devil’, and Jim Broadbent is another to keep an eye on, providing some of the more light-hearted laughs of the film.
Being such a long tale, Cloud Atlas sees a lot of varying components rolled into one film. From fluctuating emotions to completely different worlds and drastically diverse situations, you are always being thrown something new. Each world is very individual, some more subtly distinctive than others, but nevertheless, beautiful to look at. Given its length and explorative nature, some will deem it a bit pretentious too. While it is a bit arty and sometimes tries to be more than it is, I’ve seen a lot worse.
One major issue I had was with the length. In some lights, it seems to try and justify this with the fact that the story is so heavy. Admittedly there is a lot going on and many different strands to follow, but it could have been at least half an hour shorter. You start asking yourself when the film is going to end after 2 hours in front of the screen, and when you think the film is drawing to a close, it doesn’t. This ruined it for me slightly, as I started getting to the point of hoping it was going to finish.
This film isn’t for the light-hearted. If you’re going to watch it, you need to commit your time and attention; a few times I felt lost along the way and I think that was due to my declining interest.
Star rating: 6.5/10
Directed by Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski.
Running time 172 minutes.