17 September 2012 | LetwitJr
A powerful adaptation to a beautiful novel
I was lucky enough to get last-minute tickets for this film at the Toronto International Film Festival. The theatre was packed and we were thrilled to see it although we did not entirely know what to expect. I had read a part of the book but never found time to finish it.
The very opening of the film is mesmerizing and sets pace for all that is to follow. Six stories are intertwined to create one magical ride through time and space, as all stories move forward as one. To those who haven't read the book, I expect you might find the movie confusing at first. It seems unclear at the beginning (and for most of the first hour and a half at least) what all these characters have to do with one another. The end ties it up quite well, but for a three hour film, you might find you've spent a bit too long grasping at straws. Just let it go and enjoy what's before you; It will all come together in the end.
An important aspect of the film is that actors play different characters throughout the film, finding themselves in different stories and eras. Often it works. The futuristic plot with Jim Sturgess is one I particularly enjoy. But sometimes, it feels like they're incorporated just a tad bit much. Tom Hanks' role in the editor's story seemed huge and important and first but it seemed we were supposed to forget about it. As I walked out of the theatre, I felt I had seen not only Cloud Atlas as a whole but a series of other films as well.
I think maybe for a film such as this one, actors who weren't as known would have been better. It may have been easier to believe in all their different characters and forget who they were. But as far as their performances went, well they were great. Tom Hanks shines from the opening sequence to the very end. Halle Berry was adequate for the journalist and Hugh Grant... actually it seems he's playing himself in this one too. But the true star as always is Hugo Weaving. He steals the screen whenever he appears and is mesmerizing both as the devil or a regular assassin.
The costumes and make up went from absolutely stunning (it may take you a few minutes to recognize actors sometimes) to somewhat distracting. Changing the race and age of an actor has got to be challenging but it's still hard to forget who they are. I expect the film will get an Oscar for this however, as I don't think anyone will beat them in this category before winter comes. The score was also incredibly powerful and beautiful and helped set the tone for the movie greatly.
Cloud Atlas will take you anywhere and everywhere. It may surprise you by its sudden burst of violence, sometimes exaggerated and almost funny, sometimes cold and raw. You might cry at times, as the characters make choices and sacrifices. One story is particularly funny and had the theatre laughing quite often.
All in all, Cloud Atlas is no ordinary film. It's a voyage that will take you to places you didn't expect. Don't try to understand it, just let yourself go and you'll find you understood what it was all about. If you're looking for a linear plot, then this film isn't for you. But if you want to experience something different, then by all means, buy a ticket for Cloud Atlas when it comes out. I know I'll be seeing it again.