Cloud Atlas is a sprawling, polarizing mess of a film that’s pushed the boundaries of filmmaking while repelling casual moviegoers. Despite my lukewarm reception towards the film, I’m not inhibited from seeing its grand ambition and varied strengths. One of the film’s most transparent, seismic themes woven through the fabric of its connected stories is the transcendence of convention. The film itself, through its casting of a handful of actors to play various genders, races, and ages, honorably substantiates its master thesis by initiating protocols not implemented by Hollywood, or even independent films for that matter. The moment where Cloud Atlas’ boundless narrative and inspired production choices masterfully coalesce is a scene in which varying characters, across space and time, muse about the constraints, societal and physical, restricting their lives. This resounding scene, beautifully cut to one of 2012’s best scores, ends on a bittersweet note where two closeted lovers destroy a collection of porcelain antiques. Porcelain disintegrates at an excessive rate, exploding ferociously within the frame. The sheer magnitude of the moment isn’t lost upon us, as forbidden love defiantly stands under a downpour of history and expectations; watching it crumble at their feet.
Directors: Tom Tykwer, The Wachowskis
Cinematographers: Frank Griebe and John Toll