At the time of it's theatrical release, I had my doubts about the viability of the film and while it didn't make a huge profit or claim any major awards, I am happy to report that the quality of the story(or rather,stories) is excellent.
Having not read the book, I was able to judge the movie on it's own merits and even with the twists and turns that each point in time took the various characters,my concentration was finely tuned and my interest engaged all the way though. Yes, the visuals were amazing but it was the various plights that this set of traveling souls had to face and the connections each experience had upon their individual journeys that kept me in my seat:
Watching the evolution of certain souls,such as the ones played by Tom Hanks who started off as a bad guy and ended being a hero,was a key component to unraveling the various ties that bound more than one character to their moments in time.
With her different selves showing up in one way or another to be part of the path that the Hanks personae were on ,you could see that each of them were meant to change the other life at some point and while they weren't the only pair of star crossed players intended to intersect in this interlocking framework,their final piece of the story puzzle clicked it just right for all.
For me,however,the most moving part of the film was the tale of Somni-451,a clone in a futuristic Korea(played by Doona Bae) who became the face of a revolution. Her gentle reawakening from obedient "fabricant" waitress to earnest lover and then the voice of compassion for many generations to come was incredibly beautiful to behold.
I know that some folks were concerned about the make-up applied to some of the Caucasian actors in this section,however, none of them were doing broad insulting stereotypes or taking away parts that could have gone to others. Since the characters were meant to be reincarnated souls,having the same actors change race and gender over time was crucial to the plot(not to mention a standard trope in reincarnation stories). Honestly, all I saw was a sadly tender story of a doomed romance:
I don't mind playing a bit fast and loose with the narrative,either in film or book,as long as there is a strong storytelling spine that makes checking out the body of the work worthwhile. The film adaptation,granted,has some changes made from script to screen and yet, it appears to have the true focal points of the source material well in hand.
The fact that the author was happy with the movie bodes well in it's favor and I am now determined to read Cloud Atlas,not to simply compare and contrast but to appreciate one of the main themes in the book. To me,the power of storytelling was a powerful contributing factor for many of the characters to draw from,as inspiration and guidance on their respective wanderings towards his/her true destiny:
I suspect that twenty years from now,the film version of Cloud Atlas will be looked at again and better appreciated for it's daring in bringing such an elaborate novel to life on such a cinematic canvas.
Much credit should be given to Tom Hanks for never giving up on the movie,even when it's budget was in danger of departing,and to the artistically brave trio of directors,Wachowski siblings Lana and Tom with Tom Tykwer for refusing to play it safe. The best compliment that I can give them all is that this movie made me desperately want to read this book but I also want to thank them for one of the better film experiences I've had this or any year: