Popspotting Post: Cloud Atlas
Jen’s preview of”Cloud Atlas,” starring Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Huge Grant, directed by Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski, in theaters Oct. 26, 2012.
I read the 2004 novel â€œCloud Atlasâ€ by David Mitchell in four days. Â Spurred on byÂ Ryan, who was reading with me, I devoured the book like I had noÂ other title before it. Â We wanted to finish it before the screening ofÂ the feature film at the Hawaii International Film Festival.
I thoroughlyÂ enjoyed the novel. Â Sure, it was gimmicky, but it was also fascinating.Â Cloud Atlas is a collection of six short stories with common themes,Â all tied together. Â The narrators of the stories are from all over theÂ world, in both the past and the future. Â Mitchell was able to deftlyÂ create six different, distinct voices.
I realized that a film adaptation of this novel would be very, veryÂ tricky to pull off. Â I had high hopes, though.Â The film is writtenÂ and directed by Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run) and Lana and Andy WachowskiÂ (The Matrix Trilogy). Â I was somewhat confident in their collectiveÂ ability to translate the novel into a coherent film.
They did pull it off. Â Mostly.
The writing team cut a few corners andÂ made a few changes that made me scratch my head. Â They completelyÂ discarded the structure of the novel. Â I was able to follow along withÂ the characters, but I can imagine how someone not familiar with theÂ novel could be very confused. Â Some of the novelâ€™s loose ends are tiedÂ up a little too neatly, and the filmmakersâ€™ choice to use only a fewÂ actors for so many roles was maybe not a good one.
The film stars Halle Berry, Tom Hanks, Susan Sarandon, Jim BroadbentÂ (Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince), and Jim Sturgess (Across theÂ Universe), among others. Â Halle Berry is Halle Berry, but I have toÂ say, I am impressed with Tom Hanks. Â I never saw him as a seriousÂ actor before and considered him very overrated, especially in ForrestÂ Gump, a role which still earns him praise. Â He sheds his movie starÂ skin in this film and truly inhabits his characters.Â Hugo Weaving, ofÂ The Matrix Trilogy and the Lord of the Rings franchise, appears inÂ drag in one story and is frightening every minute he is onscreen.
The team struggles, I think, with tone. Â There are quite a fewÂ genuinely funny moments in the novel that just arenâ€™t funny onscreen.Â One act involves a senior citizen (Broadbent) who is accidentallyÂ imprisoned in a retirement home and enlists some of his fellowÂ residents in his escape. Â This part of the novel is quite funny, butÂ feels dark and surreal onscreen. Â Another act takes place in theÂ 1970â€™s, and feels much too modern. Â A little more attention to how the original stories feel could have made this film seem more than just an exerciseÂ in dress-up.
And the makeup required to turn some of the Caucasian actors into AsianÂ characters is truly awful. Â Watching these actors in their makeup madeÂ me forget about the story entirely.
I appreciate what the filmmakersÂ were going for. Â I truly do. Â The idea of the novel is that throughoutÂ oneâ€™s lives, he meets the same people over and over again, throughoutÂ history. Â Seeing the same small cast appear as different charactersÂ underscores that idea, but itâ€™s not necessarily successful.
The film does succeed, though, in its epic scope and especially itâ€™sÂ brain-twisty-ness. Â Itâ€™s dense and confusing, in the best wayÂ possible. Â The lack of a structure allows the audience to makeÂ connections that they might not make with the novel. Â Scenes blendÂ into each other, lines of dialogue highlight themes. Â It is anÂ achievement in filmmaking.