It’s been some time since I watched Cloud Atlas. I almost want to say it watched me, in the same way it sometimes seems that life lives a person instead of the other way around. Cloud Atlas is almost too much movie. It felt like my brain had become a fly being shot by an elephant gun. I’m going to have to watch it again. I know it. I’m just not ready yet.

In my usual thing of watching movies because of their actors, this one was because of King Q himself, prolific and ridiculously talented actor Ben Whishaw. In the shimmering space between Skyfall, where he immediately became many movie goers’ new favorite letter of the alphabet, and the upcoming Hollow Crown series, in which word is that he mesmerizes with a stunning performance as Richard II, I watched him take on a startling and stunning cast of several characters among the many in Cloud Atlas.

I was not disappointed. Nor did I expect to be. His main turn as a young composer, whose life becomes far too entangled with his mentor, was beautifully acted. As was his stealth performance as a tribesman…and another as a woman…. When I say there is nothing this gifted actor cannot do I really believe I say it without exaggeration. I think we’ll be watching him for a very long time, and that even what he has accomplished so far merely scratches the surface of his great ability.

The rest of the story, or stories as it were, is a complex and sometimes confounding array of lives past, present, and future that interconnect, collide, and resonate through a swath of time as big as human history. I’m not even going to attempt to try to explain or analyze any of it. I found it to be beautifully acted and presented, whether the moment onscreen depicted the days of majestic sailing ships, modern conveniences, post apocalyptic tribespeople, or awesome far future technologies. It’s the kind of storytelling that sweeps a person up, away, and into a maelstrom of human struggles, and leaves the viewer thinking perhaps more than is entirely comfortable, for longer than they might wish.

I enjoy the challenge of such movies that cut far deeper than the kind that quickly drift away from whatever brain crevice they’ve dug a toehold into, leaving no more lasting impression than the bubbles that fizz away in the watcher’s soda of choice. Movies like Cloud Atlas won’t really let go. That’s all right, though. There’s always a little room in my brain reserved for things confounding and beautiful, and all the better when they come giftwrapped in the same movie.

Cloud Atlas Trailer #2

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