I’ll admit it. I went into The Cloud Atlas with the preconceived notion that it was going to be a hot mess. In all honesty, the previews I had seen reminded me too much of The Fountainhead, one of the most godawful movies I had seen in years.
So, you can imagine my surprise when I found myself quite enjoying this film.
True, it is not a perfect film. It does require attention and a degree of patience. The narrative felt a bit jerky at times and, if the expense had not been prohibitive, I think it might have worked better from a dramatic standpoint if the cast had been larger.
The cast here is very good, but, to be brutally honest, there portrayals of different people through time read largely the same. Outside of clothing and time-period, I didn’t see much evolution or difference between the characters of Luisa Rey and Meronym. Perhaps the best character differentiation is done by veteran actor, Jim Broadbent, and I feel that I must single out Hugo Weaving for doing an excellent job as the baddie. Especially for his portrayal of Nurse Noakes. That performance alone is pretty much worth the price of admission.
As for the effectiveness of the movie’s theme: that everything is connected, that our actions have reverbations felt through time? I’m not sure it accomplishes it.
Going back and reading this review, it occurs to me that it sounds very negative. I point out the weaknesses and the flaws that I perceive, but this movie has its strengths as well. Some of the characters are brought to wonderful life by their performers. Ben Whishaw’s Robert Frobisher. Jim Broadbent’s Timothy Cavendish. Doona Bae’s Sonmi-451. Although it is almost three hours long, the time seemed to fly past.
Overall, I enjoyed The Cloud Atlas, but I don’t know if I would want to see it again. So, I’m going to give it 4 out of 10. I think it might be a bit dense for a date night movie, although I think it would give people a lot to talk about, but I’d definitely say catch a matinee. It is not a perfect movie, but its flaws don’t seriously detract from it, and if you go in with an open mind, you might be genuinely surprised at how much you enjoy it.