REVIEW: On cloud nine after seeing ‘Cloud Atlas’

By Jonathan Scales

It has taken me several days to really piece together my thoughts on the complex and challenging film “Cloud Atlas.” I’m still not sure I understand the many themes and messages tucked into the six plots. But due to its quality, “Cloud Atlas” is one of my favorite films in recent year.

Jonathan Scales (Photo by Mike Ayers)

It is always challenging for an actor/actress to completely own their character. It can take months for even the most professional actors to research and get in to the mind of their role. I am in awe at the way these talented actors exhibited not one but six to eight complex characters. So the acting, although spotty in some areas, was superb. Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, and Hugo Weaving all delivered memorable performances.

This film employed four very talented screenwriters to adapt the novel “Cloud Atlas” into the film. I was utterly impressed with these owners of that craft. “Cloud Atlas,” the film, has been under plenty of scrutiny since its conception. I remember reading an article in the New York Times last year about the actual size of the project and how impossible this book was to translate into a feature. The story was actually introduced in 2005. Regardless of your opinion, “Cloud Atlas” deserves plenty of respect for the immense effort required to make it.

"Cloud Atlas" is out now. (Photo provided by

The story revolves around one incident that changed the world forever. To understand this event, the story is broken into a number of subplots spread out all over the globe and time to explain its significance and the lives that influenced its occurrence. I was extremely confused, never knowing the story or having read the book, as to the importance of all the stories told in this film. Some of them, while beautifully crafted, are still a mystery to me as why they were even included. The film is also three hours in length which I understand can turn most people off to watching it, but understanding the story’s complexity its a reasonable allotment.

“Cloud Atlas”, one of the most difficult books to turn into a movie, successfully took me into several worlds and stories that interweaved beautifully to tell one narrative of freedom, freedom that can only be achieved by the understanding of what it actually means, and only earned by experiencing tribulation and hard work. “Cloud Atlas” is definitely worth the time.

5/5 stars

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