Movie Reviews: Cloud Atlas

Many of the early reviews for Tom Tykwer and the Wachowskis' Cloud Atlas seemed downright lofty. The latest ones from the major critics are mixed -- often in the same reviews. Joe Morgenstern in the Wall Street Journal, for example, allows that the film is beautifully photographed, elegantly crafted and adventurously cast. But that's not enough. With six stories taking place during six separate time frames with the same actors playing reincarnated versions of themselves, the film, says Morgenstern, becomes so befuddling that we're left with little more than fascinating fragments, an intermittent sense of something cosmic going on, and a guessing game about which actors are which as they reappear beneath slatherings of latex makeup. Kenneth Turan in the Los Angeles Times credits the filmmakers for their efforts to make a film that is different and meaningful. However, he adds, "attempts to be original are not enough, they have to succeed, and this film's solutions tend to present themselves as alternately gimmicky and banal." Ty Burr in the Boston Globe concludes that by the time the film runs its nearly three-hour length, it feels like the most feverishly expensive late-night college bull session ever. There are glories here, but they fade in the light of day. Steven Rea in the Philadelphia Inquirer finds little to praise about the movie. "Cloud Atlas is pop spiritualism, comic-book grandiosity, Zen for dummies, he writes. And Rex Reed in the New York Observer writes that while the filmmakers may deserve a limp nod for pure guts for challenging the assumption that David Mitchell's novel was unfilmmable, this labyrinthine, ridiculously bloated ... head-scratcher of a movie is the mess that proves it. On the other hand, critics who wind up praising the movie do so with passion. It's a trip, all right, says Peter Howell in the Toronto Star. Cloud Atlas creates awe about worlds seen and unseen, frequently bypassing the brain on the way to the heart and soul. Roger Ebert acknowledges his desperation in trying to review the film at all, even after watching it twice. Anywhere you go where movie people gather, it will be discussed. Deep theories will be proposed. Someone will say, "I don't know what in the hell I saw. The names of Freud and Jung will come up. And now you expect me to unwrap the mystery from the enigma and present you with a nice shiny riddle? A.O. Scott in the New York Times valiantly attempts to explain it all, but then reaches this confusing conclusion: The movie insists -- repeatedly and didactically -- that a thread of creative, sustaining possibility winds its way through all human history, glimmering even in its darkest hours. A beautiful notion, and possibly true. But unfortunately not quite true-true.


Tags: Tom Tykwer - Wall Street - Example - Rex Reed - David Mitchell - Roger Ebert - Enigma - The New York Times


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