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Monday, December 16, 2013

Mini Movie Review: Cloud Atlas

As movies go, this has to be the most complex film I've ever seen. We missed seeing it when it released in theaters and now I'm glad we waited to see it on dvd.

It's a series of six stories nested and interrelated to one another spanning centuries. What makes it interesting yet a challenge to follow is that each story slips in and out of each time period like a stream of consciousness.

This will not appeal to everyone. I've seen both glowing and blistering reviews. I can tell that those who hate this film probably don't (or won't) understand the subtle context woven into each story. I have to hand it to the author, David Mitchell. He was sublime; reminiscent of Richard Matheson.

This will appeal to those who like stories about reincarnation and soul mates. It's actually grander than soul mates. It's an entire soul group that lives and dies in each century.

Google 'soul group' and you'll find countless links describing this phenomenon. But in simplest terms, we tend to travel through time within certain groups. This might trigger that strange feeling you get when you meet someone for the first time yet you seem to know them immediately and even intimately.

In each life, we are not always good and noble creatures. Sometimes we're scoundrels or worse. The movie shows the growth pattern of each of the characters through the centuries.

We will definitely need to see this a couple more times (and with subtitles) to catch the subtler innuendo. But we both deeply enjoyed it. It's been several days since we've seen the film and we still find things to discuss and analyze.

The cast is led by Tom Hanks and Halle Berry, but there are remarkable performances by all the main actors. Every actor played many roles. (I still can't believe Hugh Grant could pull off a cannibal.) Although their concentration to character must've been grueling, special credit has to go to the film editors. The way they transitioned from one century to the next and then between stories is nothing short of amazing.

It is part science fiction, part historical, part post-apocalytic, part dystopian, but all preternatural. 

We live many lives and share them with many people. We are good and evil, and sometimes the smallest gesture can change a world.

If you like epic stories that make you think in four dimensions, I recommend this movie.


18 comments:

Mike Keyton said...

Thank you for this review. You've swung it for me watching the DVD. Ref Tom Hanks, he was the real star of 'Saving Mr Banks' we saw last week. Emma Thompson was good, the entire ensemble were cracking but Tom Hanks brought Disney to life. It may be a flawed gem, but nevertheless it is a gem of a film. The only drawback is that you may want to see Mary Poppins again.

Maria Zannini said...

Mike: Well, rats. This was supposed to go live tomorrow, but apparently I scheduled it wrong. No matter.

Saving Mr. Banks is coming out at Christmas here. It's on our list to see--whenever Greg gets back.

I think you'll like Cloud Atlas, Mike. The story didn't so much give you any answers but rather brought up some startling observations about humanity as a whole.

Cate Masters said...

I was in awe of the author when I read the book. Excellent. The movie's still on my TBW list, but I look forward to it - especially to seeing how they translated the story to film.

Maria Zannini said...

Cate: I'm glad you said that! I was thinking of getting the book. I'm willing to bet it's even more multi-layered.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I haven't seen this movie, but my daughter loved it and promised we would watch it together. I'm excited about it after reading your description.

Maria Zannini said...

Susan: It's a great movie for discussion. And there's never a moment of boredom because so much is happening so quickly.

raelynbarclay said...

I remember seeing this advertised but as usual didn't make it to the theater. I'm going to hunt it down so I can watch it.

I love movies that stay in the mind long after they've been watched. Thanks for the review Maria!

Maria Zannini said...

Raelyn: Walmart had it in a promo kiosk for $3.96. I'm glad I scooped it up.

Sarah Ahiers said...

I Still haven't seen this, even though my parents saw it in theater and loved it

Crystal Collier said...

The preview made me think I'd probably love this one, but I've been hesitant--time being what it is. We'll have to pick it up.

Maria Zannini said...

Sarah: Rent it if you can. It's food for thought.

Maria Zannini said...

Crystal: I was confused by the trailer and now I know why. But the movie itself was fascinating.

Darke Conteur said...

I heard this was a difficult movie to watch because of the time shifts. I'm not sure if I could watch it.

Maria Zannini said...

Darke: It took me about 10-15 minutes to get used to the shifting. After a while I found the time periods I liked best (the far, far future) and looked forward to when the story caught up with them there.

LD Masterson said...

This is one I wanted to see in the theaters and then just forgot about. Thanks for putting it back on my radar.

Maria Zannini said...

It was worth it, Linda. I still ponder over the themes.

Jennifer Shirk said...

Hmmm...this doesn't sound like a veggin' out movie. But one I'll put on my rent list for sure!

Maria Zannini said...

Jennifer: This is definitely a thinking movie. :)

Merry Christmas, Jennifer.