I have seen some epic, bonkers films in my time but Cloud Atlas rewrites the epic bonkers book. It's like watching five films at once, all screened on separate channels, all starring the same cast, but someone next door keeps changing the channel. Amazing, but just random.
The Wachowski siblings may have scored a smash with The Matrix in 1999, but both sequels were self indulgent, pretentious and often dreadfully scripted, badly acted and with awful make up.
Here things are better and worse. The cast is super, especially Ben Whishaw, but there are so many bizarre appearances by Tom Hanks, especially a scene in which he plays a brutal Irish novelist, which seems to have no pay off at all.
Imagine someone being given enough rope to hang themselves, the cast and thousands of crew, and you get the idea behind this gloriously bizarre folly.
I'd wanted to see it at the local multiplex, but it was pulled after a week, and I'm not surprised.
This is an art house film with a blockbuster budget. It's bound to find a cult following on Blu ray, and no doubt benefits from repeat screenings, but one viewing is an absorbing, snappily paced affair that is never dull, but at the same time ultimately frustrating, like doing an epic jigsaw puzzle without the box cover to see what the final image is, and then when the picture is complete, it's so much less than the sum of its parts.
Kudos to the actors for giving their all, but it's clear none of them knew what was going on, and there's a good bet the three directors didn't either.
As a book, David Mitchell's tome is no doubt a compelling read, but as a film you may find it far too literal in places.
I'm glad I saw it and may watch again some day, but if you want a more satisfying avant garde cinematic experience, I'd watch a David Lynch movie as there's a strange logic to his weirdness. This is an adaptation of a patchwork quilt of a novel with three film makers pulling in different directions. Inevitably the fabric of the piece was going to tear, and like Tom Hanks' scar in the opening and closing scenes, is badly stitched together in places.
Quite an experience.