I remember reading “Cloud Atlas” by David Mitchell years ago, arriving at the last page and wondering was it possible to make this into a film. It is divided up into six separate stories which span from the 1700s to thousands of years into the future. We are presented with the first three quarters of each story before moving onto the next and then the last quarter of each story. It is a uniquely structured and compelling story.
At a talk given by David Mitchell he mused about watching the movie. He said it was as if he had made his story out of lego and he saw it disassembled by the filmmakers and reassembled in a different way but using the same blocks.
So at last I watched it and understand what he said. They have taken his unique structure and replaced it in a multi-layered fashion. We get easily digestible bite sized portions of each story leaving us wanting more as we move back and forth between them. This may sound complicated but each story is easy to follow.
The Wachowskis and Tykwer have kept the compelling and detailed nature of Mitchell’s writing as we jump between different time zones. This is not a time travel movie but more of an investigation into reincarnation and not in a blatant in your face manner. It is the subtle nature of how these reincarnations occur that makes this a clever and touching film. It also investigates the power of the individual and the importance of interaction with the people in their lives.
Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Doona Bea, James D’Arcy, Jim Sturgess (who does a great Keanu Reeves/Neo impression) etc. all step up to the plate wonderfully, playing multiple roles, some obvious and others will surprise you (they have a key to all parts played at the beginning of the end credits).
The makeup department must have had coffee injected directly into their veins to keep up with the amount of disguises they had to create. The vision of thousands of years into the future is one of the better imaginings I have seen especially how they have pictured the development of the internet.
This is not a film for the hard hearted or cynical. Despite also dealing with betrayal, sacrifice, loss and some well executed action scenes the filmmakers managed to appeal to the sentimentalist inside of me.
Definitely one for the cinema.