(possible spoiler alert per usual)
“What is any ocean but a multitude of drops?”
After reading the reviews and deciding that it would be worth a chance to see in theaters, I was very pleasantly surprised by the movie. Basically, Cloud Atlas is a more coherent version of The Fountain, and I mean that in the best possible sense. A very complicated film dealing with interweaving plotlines across time certainly isn’t unique, but it still takes an immense amount of courage and effort to pull something like Cloud Atlas off, even if it has its imperfections. And yes, I think the scope of the work here makes it a better film than Inception, even if Inception is a much more polished movie.
It’s true that each of the individual stories is not particularly deep or compelling: “The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish” is no One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, “An Orison of Sonmi~451” is no Matrix or Never Let Me Go, etc. And yes, the acting and chemistry is flat at times; and even the editing is inconsistent, at times jerky and hard to follow. The grandeur and sweeping nature of the story never gets lost though. I found it quite neat how the actors played different roles in each of the stories — unlike in The Fountain, where Hugh Jackman was the protagonist in all three narratives, Tom Hanks in Cloud Atlas is not always the good guy.
In a storyline this complex, it would be so easy to make enough missteps to cause the entire structure to topple, and yet it didn’t. What ultimately makes this movie successful, in my mind, is that it manages to connect the disparate stories together. Each narrative is a facet of the struggles and the joys of human life. The beauty of the film is not the individual stories themselves, but the strands that bind them together, the chords of humanity that resonate among them. It’s a treat to be reminded so wonderfully that the human spirit has persisted through adversity, tragedy, futility, the inevitability of time.