There is guaranteed to be something in Cloud Atlas that will tickle your fancy, whether it is the futuristic action sequences, a troubled 19th Century Pacific voyage, the post-apocalyptic struggles of a small tribe surviving daily attacks from savage cannibals or any one of the other tasty morsels that make up this glorious visual feast.
Directed by Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run), and the Wachowski siblings (of the Matrix trilogy), Cloud Atlas reportedly had a whopping $100m budget, coaxed out of independent financiers to translate David Mitchell’s novel – which was short-listed for the Booker prize – onto the silver screen.
The novel’s intertwining diary entries spanning across the ages makes the thought of transferring it into a cinematic narrative all but impossible. Cloud Atlas documents the lives of its characters in a compilation of six short stories, separate at first but then slowly interwoven until Mitchell’s innovative message is revealed – that man’s existence on earth is reflected throughout each generation and therefore is fundamentally universal across the ages.
If the storyline wasn’t baffling enough, Tykwer and the Wachowskis opted to cast the same actors to play multiple roles in an attempt to prove Mitchell’s message. Not only does the audience have to keep up with the six interlocking storylines, but with the constant switch between Tom Hanks as a 19th Century ship doctor to a tattooed, post-apocalyptic survivor, the amazing prosthetic noses on show make it very hard to sniff out what is going on at times.
The story is spliced and diced and so fast moving that even the 172 minute run time moves as quickly as the scenes flicker from past to the future. Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Ben Whishaw – the cast is an endless list of talent. Jim Broadbent in particular gives great comical delight with his take as an eccentric publisher who accidentally lands in a care home for the elderly, looked after by the formidable, fearsome Nurse Noakes (Weaving). The film’s intermittent humour will bring a little light relief to those who are lost between the ages.
Much like a patchwork quilt in more ways than one, Cloud Atlas covers a whole host of scenarios in a very surreal montage that does Mitchell’s novel complete justice.
Cloud Atlas is released nationwide on 22nd February 2013.
Watch the trailer for Cloud Atlas here: