Monday, May 20, 2013

Movie Review: CLOUD ATLAS (2012)

Cloud Atlas (2012). Dir: Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski. Starring Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Doona Bae, Ben Whishaw.

I've finally seen the masterful, moving film adaptation of David Mitchell's amazing novel, and if you haven't guessed already, I loved it.

Directors Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski have taken Mitchell's multi-layered narrative and turned into one of the strangest and most beautiful movies I've ever seen. No, it's not perfect, and it's not even a perfect adaptation but wow they did a good job. I'm going to refer you to my review of the book for a plot summary. Mitchell tells his story by alternating several stories which are tied together by theme and language.The filmmakers interleave the stories by flipping from one to the next over and over, and even reusing the same actors in different roles in each story. The viewer leaps around in time, place, setting, plot, and sees the same faces pop up again and again, often in unexpected ways.

I'm not surprised the movie didn't fare well at the box office. It's weird, unconventional and difficult. But it's also incredibly beautiful and accomplished. The filmmakers made some changes in their adaptation; that's to be expected and for me the changes worked well, even the last change, at the very end. At first I went, "wait a minute, that's not how the book ended," but then I think I realized that even though the movie takes us a long way from the book in many ways, it remains essentially true to its spirit and the decisions the filmmakers made suit the screen just as Mitchell's suited the page.

Tom Hanks in particular stood out in terms of acting. He has an incredible variety of roles to play and he manages to be menacing, hilarious, moving, and just plain wonderful throughout. I also loved Hugh Grant's appearance. My favorite story in the book was my favorite in the movie, that of Timothy Cavendish and his "ghastly ordeal." I think I need my undefinable-in-terms-of-genre stories with a healthy dash of humor. I absolutely loved Hugo Weaving in this segment in particular. I'm not going to spoil it- just see it.

I would absolutely recommend you read the book before seeing the movie, but I've talked to lots of people who saw the movie first and enjoyed it a lot, so if you don't want to read the book don't miss out on the film. You'll probably want to read it later anyway, and you should!

Rating: RUSH


Book Dilettante said...

I do like when a movie complements the book it's based on. The book and the film are on my list of things to do!

contemplatrix said...

we are looking forward to finally seeing this--and soon. really wanted to see it in theaters first-run, but timing never favored us.

We are huge Tykwer fans.

I like when, understanding the complexity of a book, the filmmaker is bold enough to go for the heart of the book over as on point translation of the physical aspects as possible. each trek is a risk, but I like it better when the former is attempted and successful.


bermudaonion said...

I don't think this is for me but I bet my son would love it.

Sandy Nawrot said...

I specifically did NOT go see it because I haven't read the book. And WHO KNOWS when or if I will ever read it? Sounds like a good project for a rainy day!

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

I'm curious about this -- we should be getting it in the library soon. Glad u enjoyed it

Jeanne said...

I saw the movie first and loved it, and then read the book and loved it. I dragged everyone I could find to see the movie, and didn't understand why it wasn't more of a success.

Ryan said...

Cloud Atlas is one of my all-time favorite novels and for that reason along I have been resisting the film. After reading this review, perhaps I should give it a go. I do like me some Tome Hanks. said...

It’s a long movie, but it still kept my interest and had me wondering just how all of these stories were going to converge at the end. Needless to say, I wasn’t disappointed even though I didn’t feel an emotional-connection to it whatsoever. Good review Marie.