Majestic “Cloud Atlas” Soars.

cloud-atlas-movie-poster-imagesThe lukewarm, almost embarrassed reviews that Cloud Atlas has been getting are, to put it mildly, baffling. It is in every sense of the word a wonder to behold.

It’s easy to see why one might approach it with an air of scepticism. First, there’s the cast. Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant and Jim Broadbent.

Then there’s the sprawling nature of the narrative. Parallel stories set in six different time frames; on a 19th century sea voyage, in 1930s England, 1970s San Francisco, contemporary London, a Blade Runner-esqe Seoul in 2144, and in a post apocalyptic, stone age future world.

And then there’s the fact that it is directed by three different people, Andy and – now – Lana Wachowski, and Tom Tykwer. All three of whom have had a mixed record of late.

v-for-vendetta-page-162464The former pair conquered the world with The Matrix in 1999. After the inevitable and inevitably disappointing sequels (both in ’03), they redeemed themselves with the surreally overlooked V For Vendetta. But they followed that with Speed Racer.

Tykwer conquered the indie world with Run Lola Run in 1998. But Heaven (’02) and Perfume (’06) were curiously ill defined. And The International (’09) was little more than competent. And starred Clive Owen. Really?

So a degree of suspicion when approaching Cloud Atlas was perfectly understandable – you can see the trailer here. How anyone could cling on to that scepticism after the opening ten minutes though is beyond me. I spent the rest of the film waiting for it to sink into what I presumed would soon be inevitable chaos. But it never happened. It’s a wonder to behold from start to finish.

Hanks, Berry, Grant (especially) and Broadbent have never been better, and are joined by Hugo Weaving, the frankly edible Ben Whishaw and Susan Sarandon, all of whom inhabit their multiple roles with compelling ease.

halle_berry_sareeThere is unsurprisingly a minor blot on the multilayered copybook. Tom Hanks’ thankfully fleeting stab at a Dublin accent is to say the least remarkable. Come back Tom and Nicole, all is forgiven. And there are perhaps one or two surplus lines where character muse redundantly on déjà vu.

But that aside, the whole thing hangs together with an impressive, indeed infectious cohesion. And the big themes on the evils of prejudice and greed, and the liberating power and unifying potential of the arts are deftly handled. Instead of hectoring and annoying, the resulting film sweeps you along and up.

More than anything else, this is a film. It’s fantastically tactile. And for once, the digital effects and CGI are used sparingly, and in service to the story. So if at all you can, go and see it in the cinema. It’s majestic.

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