Friday, March 8, 2013

Cloud Atlas

OK, here goes...I haven't read the book of Cloud Atlas, but from what I understand it was considered almost unfilmable. Mmmmm I think that the directors Lana and Andy Wachowski (The Matrix) and Tom Twyker (Run Lola Run) may just have proved that wrong. The plot is way too intricate to even outline, but I will give it a shot. The film is set in six time frames, the first in 1844 involves an American lawyer on a ship who befriends a stowaway slave, next up 1931 in which a haunted gay man seeks out a famous composer and becomes his amanuensis (musical assistant), 1973 and a female journalist investigating a scandal involving a nuclear station. On to 2012 and light relief in the form of a publisher who owes a lot of money and is shipped off to the mental health unit from hell by his fed up brother, skipping forward to 2144 where a fabricant is saved from her miserable life in New Seoul to become the planet's saviour and finally to the 24th Century and an uncomplicated goat herder's life is turned upside down when a strangers comes to his community and needs help. And that's about all I can give you folks. This movie is completely magical. It's three hours long, but I wish it had been longer. The magnificent cast are quite an eclectic mix of actors and it works beautifully. Throughout the film, the same people appear, in different forms, genders and races. Some might have a problem with that, but it's crucial to the film and I found it totally inoffensive as everyone crossed races, caucasian to asian, black to jewish, asian to european so you can be equally offended by it all or not. The stories are all intertwined, and the message is nothing new, but it's such a beautiful message that only the most jaded are tired of it being told time and time again. I am a committed atheist, reason and logic are my masters, but oh how I love the concept of eternal love and souls being bound to each other forever, so romantic and pure. This is the core of the film, the eternal questions we all ask, why do we repeat the mistakes of the past? Is love so powerful that it crosses oceans of time? Are we all connected? Can love change someone? Are we bound to people and if so why? It also confirms, for me at least, that love is the only thing that really matters. That we seek comfort and kindness and it makes our lives better, or changes us if we receive it, give it or if we are spurned. Themes of dominance, evil, slavery thread through it too, you can't have love without hate after all. There are the questions raised of spirituality and organised religion and the questioning of tyranny, but I felt that these questions could be tailored to our beliefs. A Muslim would draw his own favourable conclusions to the same scenes that I did. Visually it's a masterpiece. From the salty seas, to the Blade Runner style of New Seoul, it is quite perfect. The music is just stunning, pushing the boundaries of our feelings even further and it accompanies the words of the script very admirably. The post apocalyptic pidgeon English is wonderfully melodic and child like and used to great effect. All the acting is superb, give or take a couple of ropy accents from Tom Hanks, but he makes up for that with a suprisingly buff turn as the goat herder. Ben Whishaw is as always a pure haunting joy to watch, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent and Hugo Weaving are here amongst others. Which leads to my final point, Hugh Grant is a lazy bugger. His turn here is outstanding, just as rich and nuanced as any of the other actors, so why has he plumped for the easy road all these years? Cloud Atlas is not an easy watch, and it won't be to everyone's liking, but to me its a creative masterpiece, thought provoking, with a multi layered great big beating heart at the centre and organised time travelling chaos all around the edges. What more could an old romantic like me want? Cloud Atlas: A compendium of beauty, doesn't always tell you the direction but you'll be very glad you opened it up. 9/10.

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