Movies / Movie Reviews

Cloud Atlas – The New English Patient


By Hervé St-Louis
November 11, 2012 - 10:45

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Cloud Atlas is based on a novel by English author David Mitchell and adapted by the Wachowski siblings, Lana and Andy Wachowski and director Tom Tykwer. It’s a multi-era story about how individuals’ lives are interconnected, in the present, the past and the future. Cloud Atlas is in the same genre of film as Whatever Dreams May Come and sets for itself a gigantic task of explaining six storylines and inter-crossing each of them and show how they are all related and how they matter.

If you haven’t seen it, I will say this. Go see it, but expect it to mesmerize you for a while. However, when you’ll come out of the theatre, you may realize that the directors took you for a ride and that though it seemed that delivered something uncanny, it really was a movie about nothing trying to make a point about nothing. In that sense, in a Seinfeldian perspective, this is a movie about nothing that will bore you the second time you try to watch it, as although it tries to present itself as something profound, it’s actually quite irrelevant, much like The English Patient.

I was entertained by Cloud Atlas. It made me laugh and of course, I was hooked on the action parts which were rendered flawlessly. But the action and the mystery felt like nuggets thrown at me to alleviate my impatience and confusion with this film. I stepped out for two minutes to go meet a friend who had arrived late for the film and hand the ticket, and as I came back, the story didn’t make any more sense for those of us that had stayed in the theatre. For the friend who arrived late, it didn’t make any more sense. In essence, were all left at the same stage of the movie whether we had sat through it all, missed a few minutes, or missed 15 minutes. That to me is the sign of an irrelevant movie, when it doesn’t matter what you’ve seen. It’s still gibberish.

What Cloud Atlas does well, like I wrote above is build a convincing case for a multi-dimensional story with intricate cinematography and photography. About the make-up of the actors, it was as bad as a Wayans brother movie, where they try to play all the roles. Ultimately, Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall did it best in their days with Coming to America. They played all the roles, but did a good job of masking themselves, so that you didn’t know they were playing all the roles in the barbershop.  Watching Cloud Atlas made me cringe. Seeing Halle Berry trying to pass for a white Jewish woman, or Ben Whishaw trying to play a middle-age woman was painful.  The worse was seeing the Asian makeup on Caucasian actors trying to mimic epicanthic folds. It made them look more alien than Asian. One would think better makeup could have been created.

Rating: 8.5 /10


Last Updated: September 6, 2021 - 08:15

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