Vanilla Sky

Vanilla Sky

**

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

What is happening here? Don't ask.

Confusion is the name of what stops being a game because after the first hour it's no fun any more. David Lynch is the only writer/director who can make weirdness work. Cameron Crowe, who likes the feelgood factor (Jerry Maguire, Almost Famous), hasn't a clue. He even botches the opening scene, where David Aames (Tom Cruise) drives to work, only to discover that New York is deserted.

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Let's pass on why David has two "a"s in his name. There is enough pretentiousness, without worrying about that. The guy is a golden boy/man. Son of a millionaire publisher, he has to cope with an unsympathetic board ("The seven dwarves"), who look constipated and don't speak. The only person at the office who doesn't treat him as an idiot is an English lawyer (our old friend Timothy Spall).

David likes parties, he likes girls. He doesn't like commitment. Julie (Cameron Diaz) shares his bed whenever she can slip past his defences and is obviously a vixen. He meets Sofia (Penelope Cruz), "the last semi-guiless girl in New York City". She's with his best friend (Jason Lee), but that doesn't hold him back. Within the time it takes to mix a jug of margaritas, he's driving the lady back to her place.

So far, so Crowe. The sets are expensive, the lifestyle lavish, the charm oozy and the dialogue throwaway. Suddenly, without warning, the film goes mad. There's a car crash. David's in prison. And then he's not in prison. He wears a mask. And then he doesn't. His face is hideously scarred. And then it isn't. Julie is Sofia. And then she's Julie. Who is that person masquerading as a shrink? Can it be Kurt Russell?

Reality and dreams become interchangeable. But then again... Nothing is as it seems, because nothing is. Nothing is what? All bets are off. Time is shuffled - present, past, future. Did Sofia exist? Is David a figment of his own imagination? Is imagination a figment? Is life a lie? Is death the new life?

Stop! Stop! Stop!

Tom Cruise chose to make this film, based on an early work by the young Chilean, Alejandro Amenabar, who did so well recently with The Others, starring ex-Mrs Cruise. The original movie, Open Your Eyes, which had Cruz playing the same role, was considered audacious and exciting, because the writer/director was still in his early twenties. It was also baffling.

You can play games with reality as long as there are rules. Without them, anything goes. Especially the audience. Out the door.

Reviewed on: 22 Dec 2001
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Tom Cruise is a millionaire New York publisher who falls for Penelope Cruz and smashes his face.
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Director: Cameron Crowe

Writer: Cameron Crowe

Starring: Tom Cruise, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Kurt Russell, Jason Lee, Noah Taylor, Timothy Spall, Tilda Swinton

Year: 2001

Runtime: 135 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US

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If you like this, try:

The Good Night
Open Your Eyes