Oct 22, 2012


'In the mid-nineteenth century, on a voyage through the Pacific Islands, a young American (Jim Sturgess) falls afoul of a scheming doctor (Tom Hanks) but is saved by the efforts of a stowaway slave (David Gyasi). In the nineteen-thirties, an English youth (Ben Whishaw), on a musical quest, is hired as an amanuensis to a crotchety composer (Jim Broadbent). Almost forty years later, in San Francisco, an investigative reporter (Halle Berry), tipped off by an elderly scientist, uncovers the truth about a nuclear power plant and tumbles into danger as a result. In the present day, an unscrupulous London publisher (Broadbent) is confined to an old-people’s home by his brother (Grant). In Neo-Seoul, a glittering Asian city of 2144, a female fabricant (Doona Bae)—cloned to work in the food industry—rises up against the system that bred her. And last, in an age to come—“106 winters after the Fall”—the members of a forest tribe, surviving in primitive conditions, are visited by their streamlined superiors, who zip across the ocean in a kind of aqua-spacecraft... We hop from the farcical whimsy of old folks, as they bust out of the retirement home, to the severe and glittering saga of Neo-Seoul, which is constructed as an Orwellian satire on corporate conformism, but which—as with the Wachowskis’ work on the “Matrix” franchise—becomes laughably oppressive in its insistence that every character must, under all circumstances, retain a poker face... The directors are quite earnest about the appearance and reappearance of their various stars, inviting us to have genuine faith in the blah of eternal recurrence, and there is something grindingly circular in a film that exerts immense—and, to be fair, often spectacular—energy to connect human beings across space and time, only to conclude with the startling news that we are all connected. This takes its toll on the performers. In the musical section, Ben Whishaw somehow conspires with the ever-reliable Broadbent, amid the cacophony of the narrative, to find a welcome stillness and poise, yet even the two of them must bow before the movie’s grand design, and proclaim its raison d’ĂȘtre: one speaks to the other of “meeting again and again in different lives, and in different ages.”' — Anthony Lane, The New Yorker
This column has been a bit quite of late, but I can't in all honesty remember a movie who's failure to be seen by me will give me quite as much pleasure — or enrich my life — as Cloud Atlas will.  It's almost too easy. Everything about this screams "stay away, Tom" at the top of its lungs: the portmanteau form, the panto costuming, the connection message, the presence of Halle Berry. Any one of these things, in isolation, would be enough to send me hurtling in the opposite direction, my legs a blur, but together in one package like this, it's almost a waste of perfectly decent, stand-alone deal-breakers. I could be not seeing half a dozen movies on the basis of any of them, if only the Wachowskis had been a little more generous and spread them around a bit. Putting them all in one movie makes the whole game too easy, somehow.


  1. No urge to see this either at all.

  2. But...TOM HANKS! Surely the greatness of Tom Hanks could override any bumps in the road.

    I'll see it and tell you how bad/not-so-bad Halle Berry is, Tom.

  3. Just sat through this- a friend had tickets to a special screening and I gotta admit that the movie succeeds at being a spectacular grind, it's both overly earnest in it's intent and bombastic in it's style with every other edit being a dramatic foreshadowing of the era you're next being transported to accompanied by a none-too-subtle musical flourish. What's worse is that not much of it feels particularly fresh either. It feels like a compendium of futuristic movie cliches cobbled together with the universal notion that love is the unifying factor that transcends all...You almost feel bad saying that it gave you a headache to watch...

  4. So I've now seen Cloud Atlas

    you definitely should not, Tom