It's hard to tell a single story right. 'Cloud Atlas' tells six. What fans of the book feel about the movie, we do not know yet, but fans of the film will certainly be desperate to lay their hands on the David Mitchell bestseller the moment they're out of the theatres. It is a complex and yet, compelling film that requires you to empty your bladder well before the opening credits roll so you don't miss a single moment.
What's it about?
'Cloud Atlas' tells six stories spread across centuries that are bound to each other, 'past and present'. There's lawyer Adam Ewing (Jim Sturgess) and Dr Goose (Tom Hanks) who are travelling back to America across the Pacific Ocean in 1850. In 1930, a gifted but poor musician Robert Frobisher (Ben Whishaw) becomes an apprentice to a noted composer (Jim Broadbent) in Belgium and writes frequently to his gay lover, Rufus Sixsmith (James D'Arcy). Luisa Rey (Halle Berry) is a steely reporter in the 70s who catches whiff of a huge scandal regarding the safety of a new nuclear plant and soon find her life in danger. In the 21st century, publisher Timothy Cavendish (Broadbent, again) finds himself locked away in a hellish old age home and plots his escape with his fellow inmates. A century later, we find Sonmi-451 (Doona Bae), a clone engineered to be a waitress at a fast food restaurant, who is rescued and made the face of a civil rebellion against the dictatorial government. The final story is of Zachry (Hanks, again) a primitive living on a sparsely inhabited island after a phenomenon called 'The Fall' wipes out most of the human civilization.
With all members of the principal cast playing more than just one character across stories, the first hour may be confusing, pointless, even boring. But the pace picks up by leaps and bounds from then on, and if you didn't, you'll curse yourself for not having paid attention in the first 90 minutes. Hanks and Berry are good, but the standout performances are by Whishaw as the passionate composer, Broadbent as Cavendish, Sturgess as the yummy (controversy be damned), ass-kicking general Hae-Joo Chang and Hugo Weaving as the Devil himself. On the downside, the tone is sometimes preachy, the long running time (nearly three hours) will certainly leave you twiddling your thumbs for some bits and not every story is interesting enough.
What to do?
'Cloud Atlas' requires patience and every bit of your concentration, but put in the effort, and you'll be well rewarded for your time.
in.com rating: 4/5
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