I remember hearing about Cloud Atlas while it was in production and that Tom Hanks was being associated with it, as well as the directors of The Matrix. Consequently, I made sure to pick up a copy of the novel, by David Mitchell from the local library and worked my way through it, enjoying how the stories were split up, but how each affected the other.
The film adaptation moves backwards and forwards in time more frequently than the novel, tying moments together across the ages, as a stellar cast lives lives that intertwine and develop as they meet one another again and again through the centuries.
Joining Hanks, is Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Bae Doona, Ben Whishaw, Keith David, Hugh Grant, and Susan Sarandon. Each actor takes on a number of roles, and over the course of the film, their actions, emotions, motivations affect their future selves and events as characters redeem themselves through the centuries, fall to evil, love, greed. There are action beats, a gorgeous score, fantastic cinematography, and the need to pay attention to the details.
And the details are just as important as the performances as lines, props, and locations, even movements are reflected throughout the film, as lives and moments touch across time.
Clocking in at almost three hours long, this one demands you pay attention, and isn’t something you can just throw on to pass the time. The Wachowskis, and their fellow director, Tykwer developed the script together, and then shot their own segments, marrying it all together into one epic tale that one can easily lose oneself in.
Hanks and Berry are wonderful in every incarnation they bring to the screen, each character fully realised, but Weaving, cast as the villain(s) is always fascinating to watch, and in a number of moments, truly terrifying.
This one isn’t for everyone, it’s constant jumping through time, and the multiple narratives could try some viewers, and some of the makeup effects can be a little off-putting, but the stories and the way they all connect, moving the characters forward totally works for me.
And having read the book, I was able to know where and when I was at all times, and delighted in seeing moments from the novel brought to life on the screen.
You have to give it to the Wachowskis, they are always bold in their filmmaking, and leave nothing on the table when they are done. It’s all on the screen. I mean I can see how people would take issue with some of the prosthetics to make actors look lighter, darker, altering their features… I get its about the throughline for the actors, but perhaps in some cases they could have expanded their casting nets, and used other ways to connect the characters.
This was a fun one to rewatch, and just revel in the technical wizardry that helped bring Cloud Atlas to life.