Original Reaction – Cloud Atlas (2012) – A Truly Unique Film

Cloud Atlas is a most unusual and mindblowingly awesome film.  The first hour or so (I’d estimate) will have you thinking, “What the … is going on?” over and over, but if you stick with it, all will become clear.  And the film just keeps getting more and more complex, and more and more awesome as it goes on.

The film is a serious treatment of the idea of Reincarnation, however, to describe it as “just that” does not do this simply brilliant film justice.  The storyline follows a pair of lovers over and over through different time-lines and parts of the world – yet it doesn’t do so in a straight-forward, “yawn”, sort of way.  The film is brilliantly shot, but, again, not simply in the “oh that is gorgeous” sort of way or even in the “WOW – what an effects shot” sort of way either.  It’s just simply mind-blowing, especially as you start to figure out what is going on.

Each of the principle actors of the film plays multiple parts, so yes, part of the fun of the movie is spotting Jim Broadbent, Tom Hanks, and Halle Barry over and over again in different times and as different people (as well as most of the rest of the cast including:  Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Doona Bea, Ben Whishaw, Keith David, and James D’Arcy among others).  But this film isn’t simply brilliant because all the principles play multiple roles in different times and places.  The world building – which is multi-dimensional – is just as complex and convoluted as the interconnected plot.  That the plot finishes and makes sense and works is part of what makes this such an “omg” film.  I saw it in a small theater and the audience sat in stunned silence for a few minutes before anyone even got up, moved, or left.

The actors are brilliant in this.  Even Hanks, whom I don’t personally like and I find very over-rated does a good job playing multiple characters without always being “Tom Hanks”.  Halle Berry, normally type-cast as a “sex kitten” is phenomenal.  Ben Whishaw and James D’Arcy are simply incredible — and it took me until after I gotten home to finally realise where I’d seen Whishaw before (In the BBC drama – “The Hour” and as Q in “Skyfall”).  Broadbent, of course, is a British character actor who can do anything.  And at the heart, the film revolves around Doona Bea and her characters — all I can say is, “what an actress!”

Quite simply a must see film.  It’s almost impossible to describe why this film is so incredible, but it simply is.  I think I now know what people in the 1960s first thought when they saw the famous film 2001 – because this is just as mind-blowing if not more so, and it’s not centered on European/American culture.  Brilliantly, brilliantly done.

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