"Cloud Atlas" is a thought-provoking drama that dares to question the paradigms of storytelling through the interrelated narratives of characters throughout time. The beauty of the film comes from the cunning use of makeup and a visual feast of stunning cinematography.
The sextet of main characters include Zachry (Tom Hanks), a tribesman living in a future post-apocalyptic Hawaii; Luisa Rey (Halle Berry), an investigative journalist looking into the corruption of a nuclear power plant; Timothy Cavendish (Jim Broadbent), an eccentric editor with a taste for adventure; Adam Ewing (Jim Strugess), a lawyer on a voyage to return to his wife; Robert Frobisher (Ben Whishaw), a musician who finds himself working as an amanuensis for a legendary composer and Sonmi-451(Doona Bae), a genetically engineered clone at a fast food restaurant in the future. The characters are seemingly connected – each one carries a comet-shaped birthmark.
We go along the many adventures and hardships of each of the protagonists in varying orders and without notice; chronological order is thrown out the window by ambitious directors Tom Twyker, Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski.
The devil is in the detail when it comes to "Cloud Atlas" as dozens of pieces come together to form a profound work of art. A lovely composition plays throughout the film, juxtaposing itself in rhythm with the mood of the scene. The adroitness of the makeup department shines in "Cloud Atlas" as many of the actors are unrecognizable in their multitude of roles.
"Cloud Atlas" is by no means a film of simplicity; it demands attention and strives to make the mind of the audience work for a plausible answer. "Everything is connected" is not only the tagline of the film, but it also sets the precedent for a movie of distant relationships and long lost associations. The subplots result in some confusion but that does not detract from the quality of the film; instead, it enhances it.
Versatility becomes an overriding characteristic in the acting. Each of the actors concentrates their talents into a bevy of very different personas, putting the film into a higher echelon of excellence. The ensemble's strong performances make for an admirable showing.
Big ideas are presented in "Cloud Atlas," but they are not quite attainable – that is for the viewer to interpret and ponder after leaving the theater.
Carefully woven and intertwined, the fascinating complexity of the film repels any sort of dullness that lurks in modern cinema. Appealing to both the palate of the critic as well as that of the common moviegoer, "Cloud Atlas" successfully leaves an impact on all brave enough to navigate the puzzling journey.