Worlds Collide – ★★★★
Deep breath. Cloud Atlas is the film adaptation of the Booker nominated novel by David Mitchell (not that David Mitchell) which concerns itself with six timelines and how the lives of certain people interact with one another. Cutting back and forth using the same actors as different characters makes the central message of reincarnation all the more palatable.
It’s impossible to try and explain the storyline of the movie as there are many interconnecting strands. There are six timelines all with their own story to tell and some relate more directly than others. For example Jim Sturgess is on a ocean voyage in one strand writing of his adventures, Ben Whishaw then reads this story in his timeline writing about it in a love letter which Halle Berry then discovers in hers. The plots aren’t as confusing or convoluted as it would appear and once the first twenty minutes pass we can settle down with the characters confident in the knowledge of their paths.The chief players are Tom Hanks, Berry, Sturgess, Whishaw, Jim Broadbent and Doona Bae. There is an incredible ensemble cast with pivotal parts for Hugo Weaving, Hugh Grant and Susan Sarandon. The actors change ethnicity and sex from era to era through the use of costumes and heavy prosthetics, often beyond recognition. This jars at times making you come out of the story but on the whole works well.
It’s no surprise to see what attracted the Wachowskis to the project when we come across the “Neo Soul” and “After the Fall” timelines. Neo Soul is heaped in Matrix ideology and it’s possible that the Wachowskis’ film having come out in 1999 partly influenced Mitchell’s 2004 novel. With so many elements and components the siblings also enlisted the help of director Tom Tykwer making the film sow nicely together and difficult to see the seams.
With numerous character changes the actors all do a credible job and you can imagine it was quite fun to play around with the normal conventions, Tom Hanks even manages a passable Irish accent. Each person will have their favourite storyline and wish more time was spent on it but the directors have managed to pull off a delicate balancing act meaning no story outstays it’s welcome.
It was never going to be easy to make a three hour film profitable in today’s market if it’s not based on some historic event. The film will find its audience in homes and campuses in years to come. Not as profound as people would make you believe, Cloud Atlas none the less will be agreeable to multiple viewings and leave you wanting more.
Germany, USA, Hong Kong, Singapore / Directed By: Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski / Written By: Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski / Starring: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Grant, Jim Sturgess, Ben Whishaw / 172min / Drama / Release: 22 February 2013 (Ireland, UK), 26 October (USA, Canada)