Sunday, November 11, 2012
Love: Cloud Atlas
We open on an island in the distant future, "106 winters after 'The Fall'," according to the film's lore. Here we are introduced to Zachry (Tom Hanks) who belongs to a tribe of people who speak in a cultural mash-up of stylistically broken English (a bit of UK street accents, Jamaican, creole, southern drawls, and Jar Jar Binks). Zachry is plagued by visions of a demon (a Baron Samedi leprechaun, basically, played by Hugo Weaving) who urges him towards a loss of humanity even after he decides to help a technologically advanced stranger (Halle Berry) on an important quest.
Before we know any of this, really, we're warped back into a 19th century sailing drama built of mysterious ailments, slave trades, and searing sun. Here we follow a young lawyer (Jim Sturgess) attempting to take care of the particulars of a complicated business arrangement. It's all terribly Melville.
From there we jump out of Melville and towards Waugh and Isherwood: our 1930's UK-based story follows a dandy Robert Frobisher (Ben Whishaw) as he pens lilting love letters to his secret boyfriend Sixsmith (James D'Arcy) and composes the "Cloud Atlas Sextet" as amanuensis to an established, slippery old master (Jim Broadbent). So follows a direct connection in which a much older Sixsmith participates in a 1970's conspiracy narrative involving a nuclear plant. He recruits Luisa Rey (Halle Berry), a hard-nosed journalist who picks up Sixsmith's cause when he meets an untimely end. They're after the truth, dammit, and the genre stylings mirror every espionage thriller of the day. Chronologically, after the 70's we move to a present day sideways commentary on the literary world, in which we're given a delightfully wacky sort of British prison-escape comedy in which an editor (Broadbent) becomes unwilling prisoner at the hands of his own brother. The themes here lead us indirectly towards the final, heavily science-fiction influenced section set in 'Neo' Seoul. I won't reveal too much on what's happening here, but, uh, if you like the dystopian sci-fi flicks of the 60's and 70's...you'll probably love this.