Review: Cloud Atlas
Cast: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Grant, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Doona Bae, Ben Whishaw, James D'Arcy, Susan Sarandon
Director: Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski
Indian Express Rating:***1/2
The Wachowskis have a thing for science fiction and for sort-of exploring man's quest for freedom against order. It's easy to see why they would be drawn towards David Mitchell's novel Cloud Atlas, with its grand theme of mankind separated by ages and time but not by the general ideas of freedom and love that propel it.
The Wachowskis and Tykwer do a commendable job of mounting the concept, ditching the novel's linearity for a script that seamlessly blends events happening in six different storylines dating from ancient 1849 to a futuristic 2346. And, in an interesting twist, you don't know what came before and what followed -- it could even be an endless cycle repeating itself through time.
However, where the film flounders is in its endlessly preachy tone and in it beating down its message of "no man being alone and being connected to others from womb to tomb", through a relentless 164 minutes. What is obvious from its various episodic stories, which are remarkably different from each other and yet strikingly alike, is never left to chance.
Having put in $102 million into what was considered an un-filmable project, making it one of the most expensive independent films of all time, the three directors (also the producers and the screenplay writers) apparently didn't want to take the risk of their message not getting across.
The actors play different characters through the ages and it's a prosthetic marvel if you can get Hugh Grant to play a merciless tribal cannibal. The filmmakers obviously had their fun with hiding some of those well-known actors in some of those roles, switching their races and genders along the way. A birthmark inherited through generations is the other physical continuity.