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Review Cloud Atlas (2012)


“CLOUD ATLAS” (2012)
By Lana & Lilly Wachowski | USA, Germany, China, Hong Kong, Singapore
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“The purpose of life, is to find it.” Never did a film rung so true and so loudy to that saying than “Cloud Atlas”, my personal favorite of the Wachowski’s filmography. Adapted from the epic David Mitchell novel of the same name, this project quickly became the Wachowski’s most ambitious, resulting in a three hour long convoluted and grandiose series of stories scattered over time and space. It’s one of those films that looks impossible on paper yet through sheer craftmanship and dedication managed to be built from the ground up by the talented sibling.
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It’s impossible to even describe what this film is about and how it actually feels. Calling it an anthology would not be right, seeing how the six different stories are essentially interconnected and echoes one another; the editing made sure that message of unity come across, all thanks to Alexander Burner who took on that challenge in strive. The acting are also a highlight, whether it’s bad or good. If you didn’t know already, here our cast plays several characters, each of them are thematically linked in a way yet gave off very different impressions. Though again, some are not as good as others, you can’t deny how entertaining the performances really are here and how much the actors seems to be enjoying themselves in excitement. When else will we ever see a cockney Tom Hanks, an asian Jim Sturgess, Hugo Weaving as a leprechaun and Halle Berry as a futuristic space elf.
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So yes, it does seem ridicilous at first glance. And more often than not, it really is downright ludicrous. But it is that bold vision that to me, fits the Wachowski’s style really well and how the two directors are always taking themselves so seriously. A common critic I’ve heard about them and especially this movie is how pretentious it is, which to that I’ll say, isn’t all art are? And isn’t all self expression thread that line? Which not coincidentally becomes the center focus of this movie. Because if I can vaguely capture what the essence of this three hour epic are, it is back to that first statement I made. “The purpose of life, is to find it” is a statement I held dearly on. “Cloud Atlas” repeat that line with a clearer variety of answers. Here we have people, of different time, different age, gender, race, and nationality all scattered not knowing one another. Yet ultimately, like the hundreds of trillions of other people that has been born and will be born, these people is going on a similar journey of discovering oneself’s purpose. Some answers it in the form of art, some in good deed, some in seeking the truth, and others in fighting for freedom, for what’s right. And like the film puts it so clearly: these good deeds ripples to others that came after in a chain and no matter how inconsequential these actions may seem, we have to believe that it matters. Maybe it is just a small drop in a vast endless ocean. But as the film stated, “what is an ocean but a multitude of drops?”
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“Cloud Atlas” may just be cheesy, or pretentious, or overly indulgent at times but it strikes true to the core of something so precious and so universal to us all. We question our existence every day till we no longer can. Little by little we may learn the answer from experiences, from art, from people we love and more. Those precious moments that gave you the chill, those are what “Cloud Atlas” is. And that is why it earns its place in my soft soft heart.
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