Cloud Atlas is an ambitious, grand feature that more than anything, proves that an unfilmable book can indeed be filmed in the hands of some very capable people. The Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer deserve an award or two for the same.
The film is based on the epic book of the same name by David Mitchell and sort of follows the novel beat by beat. Those familiar with the book are bound to find the film a fascinating watch just for fact that the source material seemed impossible to put together on screen. Those not familiar with the book are in for two hours twenty minutes of mind bending, genre bending, pure and intelligent entertainment. It’s one of those rare Hollywood entertainers that frequently challenges the viewers’ concentration and attention levels, and delivers on the humongous expectations. Even better, it guarantees a post film dissection with your fellow film nuts.
There’s a vast array of actors here, including Tom Hanks, Hugo Weaving, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant, Jim Broadbent and Jim Sturgess who have multiple roles each, spanning through various timezones and intricate vignettes. There’s a slave in the 19th century, a music composer in the 1930’s, an investigative reporter in the 1970’s, a publisher in the 21st century, a woman from the future and a post apocalyptic man. The antagonist in each vignette is played by the amazing Hugo Weaving, and although not too dense in its treatment, the film superbly balances popcorn fun and philosophical allegories.
Apart from the big action and chase scenes there’s the incredible visual design (John Toll) and music (Reinhold Heil) that just blows you away. There’s not a second of space to breathe here - the editing is brutal as Could Atlas burns through the six interconnected stories. The Wachowskis and Tykwer leave subtle clues peppered through the movie and it’s great fun to spot them. The only large flaw is perhaps the tame, slightly sappy ending that ends on a quieter note instead of a big, thumping crescendo.
Regardless, it makes for a deadly and explosive watch, the best movie out in theatres this week and one of the best things to have arrived this year.