Directed by Cameron Crowe. USA. 2001.

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My expectations for Vanilla Sky were spectacularly low. My entire family disliked it. My friend Pauline who ADORES Tom Cruise admitted that Vanilla Sky could possibly have flaws. And I am generally not a fan of films that attempt to be smarter then their audience. 

I am writing this review while watching the film, which allows me to:

a) make the maximum number of spelling mistakes. Who can concentrate on typing accuracy while watching Kurt Russell?

b) capture my immediate impressions of the film, to give you, the reader, a better idea of whether or not you want to see this movie. 

It’s been on for about 45 minutes now, and I can state, with absolute certainty that I have never seen a film this confusing, and I think it’s only going to get worse.

20 Minutes Later

Vanilla Sky. All Rights Reserved.It’s worse. So far there appear to be at least three movies going on simultaneously, none of which are coherent or interesting. (Though in the final scenes I did have a little experience with ironic amusement. I had been having problems with my computer for days, and had been attempting to contact the good person that is responsible for the entire nations' technical problems, so seeing Tom Cruise run through an empty room, containing nothing but empty chairs, desks, and telephones screaming “TECH SUPPORT” at the top of his lungs, and having no one arrive gave me a teeny wave of self satisfaction.)

Vanilla Sky is a poor attempt at a morality tale (I think). David Aames is a high profile magazine publisher to whom everything comes easily. He’s handsome, rich, and everyone around him loves him. Including his slightly unstable best friend Julie Gianni, whom he uses for everything from her connections to sex. As Julie becomes more and more attached to David, David became more and more attached to another woman. When Julie confronts him outside his new lover's apartment, she maturely expresses her displeasure by driving them both off a bridge. (This is the point where Vanilla Sky splits into three. Should you feel the urge to turn off the VCR at this point, just go with it.)

Vanilla Sky. All Rights Reserved.Tom Cruise (Born on the Fourth of July, Minority Report) plays David.  I am looking over my notes on his performance now, and see all sorts of words like “atheistic based society” and “shallow.”  Those are the kindest words. Post-car crash David goes through an emotional upheaval. He’s not his pretty boy self, and is angry at everyone. The struggle to regain a once successful life could have been an interesting one, but since David wasn’t likeable to begin with, I just couldn’t bring myself to care that he didn’t feel like he could continue with his job because his face wasn’t as pretty as it once was. Pre-car crash, Cruise made no effort to turn David into the mischievous rogue which could have added a touch of amiability. All Cruise succeeds in doing is making him seem arrogant, sexist, and totally useless. Post-car crash, there are some admittedly interesting themes being examined by Cruise, but all my interest had been turned off by the previous banality. 

Penelope Cruz (Woman on Top, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin) plays the woman who forces Julie’s hand, Sofia Serrano. Watching Cruz I couldn’t help but wish she playing the character in a different film. Her Sofia was sweet, and strong. While I couldn’t help but wonder at Sofia’s level of romantic sense, (my problem being that a woman that lovely and smart could have any man she wanted, and on no planet would be saddled with a loser like Aames). I really did like her character’s strength and loyalty. It’s too bad Cruz’ had such a great role in such an armpit of a movie. I will be looking forward to her next film, as I did enjoy her performance here. 

I am in a state of disabling confusion as to how a director capable of cranking out a tight movie like Jerry Maguire could have turned out such a disorganized film. Cameron Crowe’s previous films show a gift for exploring the complexities that lie in the simplest themes (i.e. love, happiness, etc). Here Crowe seems to be attempting to be mount his proven film making process in reverse, taking complex issues and attempting to make them simple without any success. Vanilla Sky is a convoluted mess of a film, that squanders the ample talents of leads Cruise and Cruz. Not worth your time. 

Jen Johnston
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