First Hit: A difficult concept to make believable in film but here it works fairly well and is interesting.
The concept that the energy/spirit of who we are never ceases to exist and manifests itself in bodies is not new.
His Holiness Dalai Lama has revisited us 14 times. If you watch the Martin Scorsese film “Kundun” (HHDL’s nickname) you will see an enactment of his discovery of who he is and was. Anyway, Cloud Atlas takes us through people and their connections through many different expressions of their lifetimes.
Tom Hanks plays multiple versions of a good guy as does Halle Berry his connected partner. This very long (almost three hours) film goes by surprisingly fast because there are 6 story lines the audience has to follow.
The credit for this film being engaging and interesting is to the fine direction under Tom Tykwer with Lana and Andy Wachowski. I found myself wanting to know more (and read this also as caring more) about some story lines versus others. T
here were storylines I wanted to dismiss quickly while others I had more interest in. Without tipping my hand too much, the future stories were more interesting to me as were 2 of the historical stories. At times the scenes and sets were amazing in their ethereal beauty while others were sharp in their rough starkness.
Without me having to go back (and I won’t) watch it again, what struck the following day was; did anyone learn enough in their previous versions of themselves to go from being a bad guy to a good guy? Was there redemption? I don’t think so. This thought took me to thinking how much better this film might have been if an energy/spirit learned from their past behavior and moved to a different based energy. But then again it would have been a whole other film.
At one point the film did strike a chord in me which I think is true: “Love is real. Everything else is an illusion. Live in this realm and you will be at peace.”
I wondered how hard it was for the actors to stay in character for all the roles each had to play – and therefore kudos to all. Hanks was very good but typical of himself in his roles as Dr. Henry Goose, and 5 others. Halle Berry was strong in her 6 roles. Jim Broadbent was really fun to watch in his 5 roles. Hugo Weaving had 6 really disparate but interesting roles as the bad guy. Jim Sturgess was the young hero in 7 roles and did this well but I didn’t think the Asian makeup worked well. Doona Bae was mesmerizing as Sonmi-451 (interesting reference to another famous 451) and her scenes stole much of the film. Lana and Andy Wachowski along with Tom Tykwer wrote an interesting screenplay from David Mitchell’s book Cloud Atlas (named for a symphony). They also did an outstanding job of keeping this long film moving and engaging the audience.
Overall: Interesting, far reaching, and well done but not great.