One of the most anticipated films of the year in movie geek circles, “Cloud Atlas,” starring Oscar winners Tom Hanks and Halle Berry, premiered over the weekend at the Toronto International Film Festival, and reaction was loud and divisive.
“A unique and beautiful work of film art … ‘Cloud Atlas’ is one of my very favorite films of the year,” raves Drew McWeeny at HitFix. “A unique and totally unparalleled disaster,” counters Slant Magazine’s Calum Marsh.
At least they agree it’s unique.
It’s tough to think of a better word to describe the ambitious-sounding mix of sci-fi and period drama, which runs a staggering 164 minutes and interweaves no less than six storylines taking place in various times from the distant past to the far-flung future. Based on a 2004 novel by David Mitchell and directed in collaborative fashion by Andy and Lana Wachowski (“The Matrix”) and Tom Tykwer (“Run Lola Run”), “Cloud Atlas” asks its ensemble cast — led by Hanks and Berry, but also including Susan Sarandon, Jim Broadbent, Jim Sturgess, Ben Whishaw, Hugo Weaving and Hugh Grant — to play different characters in different storylines, often swapping genders or races. If you’ve ever wanted to see Berry play a “white Jewish aristocrat in the 1930s” (as London’s The Guardian describes one of her roles), here’s your chance!
The result promises to be one of the most mind-bending argument starters of the year. “Cloud Atlas” opens in the U.S. Oct. 26. Before then, check out more early reviews from: The Onion AV Club, The Playlist, The Hollywood Reporter and Variety.