After a colossal 171 minutes of Cloud Atlas, I remained as utterly clueless regarding its ultimate meaning and purpose as I was when I first entered the cinema, besides the realisation that when you add a lot of rubber to Tom Hanks’s face, he can really be made to look bizarre.
Throughout the film, I desperately clung onto the hope that its sprawling, epic madness would all come together in a beautiful, epic catharsis.
Whatever connected its multitude of stories was lost in its bizarre concoction of outlandish, jarring plots across time and space, which seemed like it was supposed to mean something as a complete piece of work even if it failed. To its credit, it made me intrigued, even keen to read the critically acclaimed novel of the same title because it must mean something fascinating, even if I was left frozen by what that meaning ultimately could be through this impenetrable piece of film making. To provide any form of summary is close to impossible. In its content, it suffers somewhat from the Zach Snyders by prizing superficial scale over the substance. Perhaps that’s an unavoidable symptom of some seemingly unfilmable source material but that’s no excuse for a film that comes across as far too dense for its own good and devoid of reward.
Cloud Atlas is cut together like a prolonged, hyperactive film trailer, nonsensically cutting back and forth at a rapid rate to keep its viewer engaged. Its decision to use an assortment of actors in multiple roles is oddly isolating as the prosthetics frequently appear to melt on the faces of their stars. To its credit, I’ve never seen anything quite like it and for that reason, I’m hesitant to ward off people from going to see it, even if I’m a little cautious of what they might think of me for wasting 3 hours of their lives when I probably know better than to do so. There’s a small chance that I’ll look back on this review and hate myself for writing it, but for now that seems just as unlikely as some of the makeup on Tom Hanks’s face.
Review by David Rank
Cloud Atlas is released on 22nd February in the UK.. Certificate 15 (UK). Running time 171 mins.
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