Last week I saw Cloud Atlas. It is based on a book with the same title written by David Mitchell in 2004. When the plan to film the book leaked out critics were sceptical. They thought it would be very difficult to bring the story to images. I haven’t read the book so my review is purely based on the movie itself.
Everything is connected
There are 6 stories within the movie. Covering a period of 472 years (from 1849 – 2321) the stories connect together in the past, now and the future. Here they go one by one in brief cause I don’t want to give spoilers away:
- A young American lawyer in Catham Islands, South Pacific Ocean in 1849 is confronted with slavery and greedy businessmen (one of them is his father in law).
- In 1936 a genius English bisexual young musician leaves his boyfriend in Cambridge, England. He works for a famous composer in Scotland. They compose a masterpiece The Cloud Atlas Sextet.
- Luisa Rey, a journalist investigates a big nuclear scandal in San Francisco, California, 1973.
- Timothy Cavendish an English publisher has to deal with a gangster author about profit-sharing of his book in 2012. After handling this with the help of his brother Cavendish is placed unwillingly in a nursing home.
- In the future of the year 2144 clones and humans live side by side. In Neo Seoul, Korea, Sonmi-451 a clone type server works at a fast-food restaurant. Sonmi strives for freedom together with the underground rebels.
- Post-apocalyptic Earth, year 2321. During ‘the fall’ almost all mankind is gone. Zachry, a valley tribesman lives in a compound together with fellow survivors but they are not alone. Another tribe threatens to destroy them. Meronym, a member of the “Prescients”, the last remnants of a technologically advanced civilization comes to help in exchange for something important. That something important is the clue of the movie.
As you can see in the poster above, everything in connected. The connection is something in the story before the next one. The plot is quite complex however. I had to stay focus all the time in order not to miss the details. This is impossible as there are many to see in Cloud Atlas. The red line of all 6 stories altogether is freedom.
Directed by Lana en Andy Wachowski from Matrix trilogy and Tom Tykwer and financed by various German production companies for USD 13,5 million Cloud Atlas arose high expectations. Does this 3 hours movie deliver? My answer is yes. It is beautifully done. As I saw in other reviews to which I agree: Cloud Atlas is a total mindfuck. The dialogue, those impressive capturing images (some heavily CGI enhanced) are a lust for your sight and hearing. My compliments to the make up department as what you see is not what you get in this movie. Actors easily swap roles, race and gender!
The casting is filled with renowned and less famous names. Personally I find Ben Whishaw (Skyfall) terrific playing the tormented young musician in desperation. Hugo Weaving (the ever-present agent Smith in The Matrix) collaborates well again with the Wachowski. Tom Hanks confirms his A-list status but Halle Berry surprisingly doesn’t to my disappointment. She’s just present as Halle Berry in my eyes. My other favorites are: Jim Broadbent (versatile), Susan Sarandon (convincing), James d’Arcy (touching) and Doona Bae (South Korean discovery).
Presented artfully Cloud Atlas leaves you wondering about human’s effort searching and fighting for freedom. In all those years people of different races, positions, genders and sexual orientation only want one thing: freedom. The struggle for freedom to those who don’t have it, is still happening in the real world of today.