Review Roundup - Loose ends

CLOUD ATLAS (2012)

Dodgy makeup and even dodgier accents are par for the course in this fantasy / sci-fi mashup from a variety of film makers, in which the idea of intertwined lives and echoes through time are explored through the Victorian naval era to the post apocalyptic future. Or are they? I will get to that in a moment. Different time periods and genres clash, and a number of different stories come together in some way or another.

On the whole the segments in the anthology are well done. It's a nice looking film during any of periods shown, and each story had things that were likeable, gripping or just simply entertaining. There are various threads about struggles which the characters face, be it illness, bigotry, hit men, cannibals or nursing home staff. I quite enjoyed the latter which was contained in the lightest story in the collection. The fight for freedom is a recurring theme in several different guises. There are a lot of characters to process as they deal with these situations, with a few likeable heroes and some fairly despicable irritants. Though the events have stronger thematic links more than any direct narrative ones. At the moment I am undecided on how effective that is to the story on the whole.



Beyond the writing, there are a lot of different dramatic moments, some effective chases and action beats; and one or two grisly thriller scenes. Though saying that I felt it was drawn out at times, despite all this material to cover it would have helped the pacing to trim back a few things. It's to their credit that each era feels very separate from the others, with washed out 70s sequences paired with neon sci-fi cities and earthy far future tribal scenes. On the subject of visuals, characters are done by the same core cast mixed up throughout the run time, and it's an interesting idea they are perhaps linked by some sort of past life experiences... even if the makeup to achieve this is rather hit and miss. The score is mostly understated and intimate, which is an appropriate link to the title of the film which is taken from a piece of music written during one of the chapters. I have to add however that it was very distracting to have to process some odd dialects being spoken as the cast try different characters. In a number of places they were unconvincing and others are purposely jumbled to represent speech after the fall of civilization.

My main issue (outside the far future decay of spoken language) was that it seemed to all be heading somewhere, a big moment or revelation that would hit me like a truck and make everything fit together. But it doesn't arrive. The threads are tied in to each other by smaller moments, some that work; others seem a bit inconsequential. One man's life story spurs on rebellion in another generation, while other characters simply happen across elements from the earlier periods in letters or journals. Some of the cast seem to be reborn as the same morally lacking people as they had been before, while others don't have any obvious pattern. I had to think about who was where, and what connections there were, if any. I have to recommend the trip though, it should provide some level of debate at least. It's been labelled as polarizing, but I am happy to just be on the middle ground on this one.

3/5