The point is this: the persnickety filmgoer can pinpoint all sorts of little problems with Cloud Atlas, and the cynical can choose to point and giggle at snark at its grand ambitions and oft-unchecked, semi-operatic emotions. This is a choice. Or you can appreciate the depth of its commitment and the scope of its achievement. In a film that takes as many gambles as this one, a few are bound to tank. Yes, the old-age makeup and accents are occasionally dodgy. Sure, the comic 2012 story is an uneasy mesh. Of course the denizens of the world “after the fall” speak in an easily mockable dialect. You can key in on those things, and dismiss the enormity of what Cloud Atlas does on the basis of them. But I’d rather it were a film that takes those kinds of risks, and tempts folly, than play it respectable and safe — I’m glad they chose to make a White Album rather than an Magical Mystery Tour. Responses thus far have been divided, and widely; the film is clearly one that viewers either love or hate. Put me in the former camp; this is big-canvas, visceral filmmaking, as challenging and chancy as mainstream movies are likely to get in these timid times.
Cloud Atlas is out today in wide release.