Thursday, November 8, 2012

Cloud Atlas and the Dangers of Time and Gender Bending

When The Matrix siblings and the director of Run Lola Run team up for a movie, it’s got to be based on a time-jumping, genre-mixing, multi-character novel that deals with reincarnation.

Yes, it is a narrative mess, but worthwhile to see how it unfolds. The book by David Mitchell was able to keep scene transitions smoother thanks to the space to breathe afforded by literature; but as a movie, it jerks back forth, leaving you out of breath and whiplashed by the end. The actors are top-tier and all performances are great, especially Boona Yum as a clone-waitress in a future world.

The movie also has a transgender undercurrent, which can probably be directly linked to one the filmmakers’ recent transformations. The voice of Lana Wachowski (previously Larry) can be heard in Cloud Atlas’s subtext of freedom and in the gender swaps between male actors and female characters and vice-versa. The prosthetics used to achieve this gimmick become distracting, but the gender-crossing of actors is a daring and fresh approach. By the end, however, the many faces of Halle Berry were making me dizzy…

Overall, Cloud Atlas doesn’t quite reach the grandiosity or depth for which it aimed, but it keeps up the pace all the way through and it might give you a thing or two to think about as the credits roll.


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