"Cloud Atlas" (The Film)
Not having read David Mitchell’s novel “Cloud Atlas”, I approached the cinematic adaptation with a feeling of trepidation, largely because of the book’s “unfilmable” tag; not to mention the three hour running time, and its lukewarm reception in the U.S. Thankfully my fears were unfounded, since it’s something of a triumph. It’s structured as half a dozen interwoven tales of love, rebellion and sacrifice, across a variety of genres (science-fiction, 1970's conspiracy thriller, Ealing-style farce…) with each set in a different time period. It’s not so simplistic as to have Tom Hanks and Halle Berry taking precisely equivalent roles in each tale, but the actors do recur – Hugo Weaving ever-effective as a heavy, and Hugh Grant as a scoundrel; and Jim Broadbent, Doona Bae, Jim Sturgess and Ben Whishaw shine in their individual segments. Andy and Lana Wachowski, working with Tom Tykwer as screenwriters and directors, give us much visual spectacle, and manage to juxtapose elements from the diverse (mercifully straightforward) narratives in such a way as to guarantee a degree of coherence, without spoon-feeding us too unsubtly with Significance. There is also a good deal of humour, although a little of it is unintentional, since some of the age- and race-altering make-up is distractingly dubious. On the whole, though, “Cloud Atlas” is hugely entertaining, and a welcome return to form for the Wachowski siblings.