'Our lives are not our own, we are bound to others past and present, and by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future' (Sonmi-451). 'Cloud Atlas' takes you on a meaningful, mesmerizing voyage through love, death, laughter and most importantly through time and space. Based on the 2004 novel by David Mitchell the film follows suit by telling the stories of six time lines; seamlessly. Yes, you heard me - six! I know what you're thinking and it is certainly a lot to take in on first watch but well worth the confusion and disappointment you feel upon trying to interpret what you see before you.
Many have perceived the film as being far too ambitious and to some extend I can see why. I do agree that the Wachowski's (The Matrix Trilogy) took a risk by taking on such a narrative, albeit they pulled through without fail. The cast is full of sheer talent (which always helps) with the likes of Halle Berry to Jim Broadbent, not to mention Hugh Grant, Jim Sturgess, Tom Hanks and Ben Whishaw, who took on the task of this journey. Amongst all the costume and fantastic make-up and prosthetic's, everyone on screen took on each of their different roles making them their own and most of all we didn't get bored with seeing the same set of actors appear on screen. Over the course of the film we visit different years from the 70's to the distance future and are whisked to various locations around the globe (don't worry, I think we are supposed to feel left behind!), from the vastness of the South Pacific Ocean to a cannibalistic, post-apocalyptic Island; where would you believe the entire set of time-lines all fall into place. This is a complete play on the theories of past lives, the afterlife and most importantly Karma. As journalist Luisa Ray (Halle Berry) states; 'Ever think the universe is against you?' and I'm sure that most of us have felt like that at one time or another. The crux is that everything happens for a reason. With every step, every action and every word uttered they will ultimately affect the other lives that we are bound to - very interesting theory, thumbs up Mitchell (oh, not the writers, sorry guys!).
When I heard there were six time lines, I honestly thought it was going to be a complete disaster. Throughout the first hour I was tempted to walk out due to certain plot lines becoming tedious and almost felt as if I was being thrown around and deliberately confused while watching - and no one wants that. Then Alexander Berner the films editor saved the day providing us with perfectly timed cuts and parallel edits between different plot lines that really compliment and link each story. 'Cloud Atlas' is ruthless, comical and intelligent with an outstanding score that will linger. With some slapstick, laugh out loud moments, especially from Jim Broadbent, some teary eyed scenes and a not so Hollywood ending (without giving too much away) for half the cast I thoroughly enjoyed this, even if I was puzzled by some plot lines. Definitely one I will watch again, purely to catch everything I missed the first time round due to the sheer brilliance of such an idea - certainly one to catch on DVD.
172mins, 15 (2012)