A dizzying ride thru lifetimes on the big screen - and the book that started it all
Review by N J Howell
The movie, Cloud Atlas, is quite a feat. Several famous folk play multiple roles in it, as reincarnations of past lives, weaving a tapestry of choice. Fast paced and often difficult to follow, as there are 6 different lifetimes and time periods involved, spanning from the 1800's to 2044.
The novel will most likely be more satisfying than the movie, simply because I'm certain there is more information on what is actually happening from lifetime to lifetime. Also, reading a book is such a personal experience ... you can always put it down, ruminate for a while, and then pick the story back up again..
I loved the movie. Tom Hanks is always excellent and it was fascinating to me how the character Tom Hanks played kept coming back to the same decision point in every life, and usually it had to do with taking a life or with stealing.
In a similar way, the characters played by Doona Bae often were at crossroads of decision that involved putting oneself at risk for the good of the whole.
Halle Berry was credible though her characters were not so diverse or interesting to me as those played by Jim Broadbent (who was brilliant as Cavendish and Vyvyan Ayrs though I wish they had changed his hair or something for Vyvyan and perhaps gave him brown eyes. Jim Broadbent has such startlingly blue eyes that it was hard not to know it was the same actor, even though the characters were amazingly different) or even Hugh Grant, whom I loved seeing as an old curmugeonly man.
OK, so, enough about the film. The book ....
Cloud Atlas is the creation of David Mitchell whose first novel, Ghostwritten, won the Mail on Sunday - John Llewellyn Rhys Prize. Ghostwritten was also shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award. David next wrote NUMBER9DREAM, shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize.
David Mitchell has a way with words. There were so many memorable quotes from Cloud Atlas that blogs are already being dedicated to them.
My favorite .... well, I may be paraphrasing but I loved it when Tom Hanks character asked Halle Berry how to know when an action is fated and she says "when you can't not do it."
Most shocking moment was what happened with the Knuckle Sandwich guy. I just about fell out of my seat.
There were a lot of moments when I literally "didn't see it coming" and in that, it was a lot like real life.
If you want to read the story in written form, this version of Cloud Atlas with movie tie-in is a good option.