Vanilla Sky

mask

2001

Directed by Cameron Crowe – Written by Cameron Crowe.

Starring: Tom Cruise, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz and Kurt Russell

Before I even begin to explain the story, I recommend that you watch this movie at least twice to fully grasp its concepts and every tiny detail that seemed invisible on your first viewing. Without meaning to make it sound like a chore, which it most definitely isn’t, this film is beautiful, narcissistic, romantic and full of subtle hints of a sci-fi. This film is weird and wonderful and full of genius, but at the best of times will leave you lost and in a state of where you are just looking through the story and at Penelope Cruz or Cameron Diaz – whom concerned were very good in their separate roles.

Stating this however, and considering the amount of different theories on its structure, I think the best way to write about this film is to review it in a matter of fact way in what I think happens in the film. David Aames (Tom Cruise, Knight and Day 2010), a young bachelor come entrepreneur has the life many dream of- fast cars, fast money and fast, obsessive girls that drive cars over bridges (Diaz, Bad Teacher 2011). His life is full of luxury, narcissism and vanity- until that is of course until he meets Sofia (Cruz, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides 2011), a downtown girl who sweeps him off his feet and into reality… for a short while.  When David is unwittingly involved in a car crash, he awakes from a coma with his arm and face mangled and disfigured. Using the excuse that his job implores him to find a cure to fix his face, he throws himself through endless surgeries, taking pills that shell him with depression and wearing a prosthetic mask to which he stays under after an embarrassing night out drunk.

The film takes many tight turns and long, swooping reveals before it is exposed that David- in the midst of his depression, sought solitude in the idea from a website of a company- Life Extension,  who could take your life from the moment it was good and extend it permanently from that period. All the while (of course) stealing your body and using cryogenics to preserve it forever as you ‘lucidly dream’ of a perfect life. David spliced his life with when he overdosed, and the embarrassing night to create a beautiful future for Sofia and himself, recollecting older memories to help him mould his ‘sub conscious world.’

However when things go bad, the film begins to play its top trump and Cruise delivers an amazing performance as the troubled rich boy, slowly deteriorating into insanity. David kills his lover and is incarcerated, under the supervision of a psychiatrist (Kurt Russell, Death Proof 2007). Unfortunately for me it all becomes too clear by the end of the movie, as his psychiatrist is almost giving him hints at the questionable reality, and when David’s ‘Tech Support’ tries to fix the errors all is explained- that he has been frozen now for 150 years, and that David now has an option- to ‘reboot’, or start a new life in reality and to conquer any fears of growing up and living a real life.

Amidst the conspiracy and the roller coaster of a plot, Vanilla Sky for me is a very touching film and lends itself a lot to a beautifully constructed, rarely found and underrated soundtrack. The actors play each role brilliantly and portray their personalities equally well (Cruises character is almost as vain). The unique lighting design should deserve credit too, for it ties the visual to the plot incredibly subtly, yet also sets the tone against the beautiful faces and the music in between.

Vanilla Sky– a must see for anyone interested in cryogenics, Penelope Cruz watching and brain punching…

8/10

– Christopher Asher

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