“Deep, Clever and Fascinating Story, Stick With It” 8/10
Cloud Atlas explores the lives of several “souls” over the course of centuries to see how their past lives impact their future lives and how they can be changed and shaped by their circumstances and the current state of the world that they live in. The film takes us full circle, from centuries ago more primitive lifestyles, to present day, right through to the high-tech future and right back to our primitive forms again, and shows us each “souls” journey through time.
The first time I watched this film, I gave up half way through. It was overly complex and short, each character offering only a snippet of their story before they were replaced by another character’s half-story, and they never quite seemed to link up. I didn’t feel like I could sense any promise of something good and so switched off, turning my attention to the fact that it may be better as a book and considering reading that instead. Two days later I had completely changed my mind, having had time to think over the story and the message, and watched it right through, and I wasn’t disappointed with the second half. The film is certainly confusing and disjointed, but you just need to stick with it. It takes a long time to get off the ground but when it does you realise how clever and profound the story is, how important each of those half-stories of characters are, and it all starts to join together, making more and more sense with every new scene.
Each of the main actors (Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Ben Wishaw to name but a few) has several characters that the portray, some recognisable as themselves, some utterly unrecognisable, and each actor characters are all part of the same “soul”, which is what makes it so clever to watch once it eventually becomes apparent that this is the case. The story is just so cleverly written and it’s really enjoyable to watch the actors play each different character, showing off their capabilities. If I had to pick the strongest link I would say Tom Hanks, who I think is a really brilliant actor who is capable of playing a variety of roles, particularly the reluctant hero, and I think he was absolutely suited to such a film where he could display his acting range with a wide selection of varying roles.
Cloud Atlas may be somewhat confusing and very slow-burning in the beginning but the plot really is something quite special and rare, exploring a concept that is practically undiscovered. It is a deep, clever and fascinating story, stick with it and you’ll grasp its sentiment. I am in no doubt that I will now explore the book as well.