Monday, May 20, 2013
Movie Review: CLOUD ATLAS (2012)
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!