Six stories interweave: A survivor on an island, terrorized by a rival tribe; a man who has contracted to trade in slaves, rendered ill by a mysterious malady; a young composer seeking to outrun his own infamy and protect his lover; an investigative reporter determined to expose a dangerous plan to sabotage a nuclear plant; a publisher trapped by his own greed and his own brother's revenge; and a clone, exploited by her society, who must appeal to people to change the way they think about those around them.
When I say interweave, I really mean it. The film leaps from one story to another, here, and there, and back again, in an intoxicating intricacy and contrast.
I LOVED THIS MOVIE.
The first jump of story line left me surprised, but the next engaged me, and I was drawn into the net of complexity, eager to see where each tale went, but unwilling to let any of them go. At the end of the movie, I was disappointed that I could no longer continue to watch further in each story; all of the characters had gone right into my heart.
It was only after we went to the grocery store after the movie, and saw the store clock, that we realized the film had been nearly three hours long. How could it have been so long and left me wanting more?
I found the visual impact of the movie rich and diverting, and the overlying theme of connectedness reminiscent of Mark Helprin's A Winter's Tale, which I also loved.
This is one I will own on DVD as soon as I can. I can't stop thinking about it, and wish that our budget allowed me to go see it again tomorrow.
Ever since I can remember, I have liked movies or stories that cover a large swath of time -- stories that allowed you to follow a subject from beginning to end. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was a story like that, albeit the character lived backwards in time, starting off as an old man and living his life through to his childhood. I liked that. It allows you to see patterns in things, allows you to see consequences, allows you to put into perspective the confounding bits of life.
I think that's why I really haven't minded getting older. I like being able to make sense of some of the things in my life that really seemed gratuitous back then. A disagreement that led to me leaving a well-paying and otherwise promising position (one of those "you can't fire me, I quit" type of situations) which seemed like a disaster back then seems like only a necessary course adjustment from my current perspective, an incident that served to move me in the right direction. Or the harebrained scheme to get an off-campus apartment with two guys I didn't really know all that well that turned out to be one of the most important decisions I ever made, since that apartment was next door to an apartment rented by the woman who would soon be my wife. It's all those kind of twists and turns in life that seem random as they occur, but like a good impressionist painting, blend into an extraordinary work of art when viewed from the distance afforded by age.
Soooo, after having met the girl in the next apartment, falling in love, having a baby, moving to Houston, moving back to Pennsylvania, taking an assignment in California, going back to Pennsylvania, having that confrontation with the V.P. of Manufacturing, landing a job in California, marrying off the baby to some guy she met in a hardware store, becoming a grandfather, not once but twice, retiring, and learning how to make my own pasta from scratch, I went the movies to see Cloud Atlas.
Now, if you can imagine five more paragraphs like the last one, one each describing how Sand, the couple that sat in front of us, the theater manager, the kid that sold us the popcorn, and the projection room operator all managed to arrive at that same theater at the same time, and further more, you had all six paragraphs mixed together, then you have a bit of an idea of the experience of watching Cloud Atlas.
Remarkably, the Wachowski siblings, the people that brought us the Matrix trilogy of movies, do manage to tell six stories all at once in a kaleidoscopic vision of time and life. There is humor, there is pathos, there is adventure, there is intrigue. There are six different visions of Halle Berry, and Hugo Weaving in six permutations of villainy. There is incredible imagery, and there is bold speculation about the nature of the universe, and Tom Hanks coughing after toking on a joint. It is a rollicking, leaping, swirling rollercoaster ride of a movie, so chock full of stuff that one viewing just simply is not going to be enough to sort through it all.
This is not a movie for kids! The R-rating is well deserved for the language and some pretty explicit sex. But if you're a grown-up, and you would like a mind-boggling movie experience, go see this one in the theaters. You'll get more than your money's worth.