Film Review: Cloud Atlas (2013)


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From the directors of the critically acclaimed (well at least the first one!) Matrix trilogy, and director of ‘Run Lola Run!’, Cloud Atlas was always going to be a little bit special. Based on a book of the same name, we see six different plotlines, with interweaving narratives, actors and, brilliantly, diversity, of both the ethnicity and genres.

We get a sci-fi epic, a comfy Brit-com, a thriller, some post-apocalyptic action, a hearty adventure at sea and a tragic love story. All squeezed into almost 3 hours of screen time! Cloud Atlas is an epic. At times it works, at others it doesn’t, but there’s likely to be something in there for every viewer.

It focuses on the lives of several different people, spread out in different timelines, but using the same actors and actresses, to show that they’re the same embodied spirit, through reincarnation…or something like that! These aforementioned actors and actresses are a great roll call, and help provide a bit of weight to the film, giving it credibility alongside such a bizarre concept. Halle Berry, Tom Hanks, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Grant, Ben Whishaw showing just a snippet of the star power.

It’s a special film for many reasons. One, the actors take on different personas in their various roles, Tom Hanks becoming an irate Irish author in one plotline, and a thieving old man in another, Halle Berry becoming a white Jewish woman in one, and then a saviour in the future in another. It’s interesting to pick out who is playing who at times, distracting from the action at others.

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As the largest independently funded film of all time, £100million to be precise, it’s daring to break the mould of conventional cinema as we know it, daring audiences to take a concept that hasn’t been attempted, never mind completed, and embrace it. It flopped in America, leaving audiences either in love with it, or boggled with it, and I can understand why.

It’s long, it’s interweaving storylines mean it can be hard to keep track of what is going on in the grand scheme of things and its messages are controversial to say the least. However, despite the long running time, after watching it, I immediately wanted to watch it again, to see the subtle details I missed before, to immerse myself in the worlds created.

The more I think about it, the more I realise how much I enjoyed Cloud Atlas. It’s not going to be for everyone, but the slick editing, the diversity in what actually happens on-screen, and the wonderful soundtrack,(which I had to purchase!), means it’s a great film.

8/10


5 thoughts on “Film Review: Cloud Atlas (2013)

  1. Ohh the soundtrack is beautiful! I read a few articles on how the movie didn’t do well partially because of bad planning/advertizing, which explains why so few people I know have seen it/want to see it.

    1. A great piece of music. I too have read something along those lines, although I just think the concept of a 3-hour long, multi-stranded movie must have point audiences off too. Not to mention a lot of bad reviews, a shame!

  2. Nice, concise review. It’s a real shame Cloud Atlas didn’t do better at the box office, however I hold out for it being a slow burner, picking up the acclaim it deserves in the future. Hopefully we’ll see more from this directorial collaboration in the future.

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