The Wachowskis' latest loses its way.
DIRECTED BY LANA WACHOWSKI, ANDY WACHOWSKI, AND TOM TYKWER
Spanning six interwoven stories from varying genres, countless fictional centuries, and 163 real-time minutes, the big-screen adaptation of David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas—directed by the Wachowski siblings and Tom Tykwer—is an epic feat of derivative plotting, facile spiritualism, and unremitting silliness. And while the present-day plot thread, at least, is silly by design, the remaining threads—which repeatedly re-employ the film’s cast as ethnically diverse reincarnations of the same souls—are afflicted by distractingly dubious makeup effects and wild dissonances of tone.
Mitchell’s novel nested each story elegantly within the next, but the film is a continuous, manic montage. Occasionally, this strategy yields eye-catching match cuts that emphasize the karmic interconnectedness of the various timelines, but just as often the effect is jarring. More incongurous still, however, is the way the film undermines its own laboured “One Love” theme by trotting out caricatured cultural stereotypes (belligerent Scottish hooligans, a thickly accented Latina caretaker) for comic effect.