“I’ll see you in another life when we are both cats.”
I was watching this silly show, Celebrity Style Story, the other day and the focus of the episode was Tom Cruise. The commentators are pretty shallow on these kinds of shows, but when one of them said that Vanilla Sky seriously sucked I was extremely shocked and angry. What an asshole!! How dare he say such a thing?! Vanilla Sky is amazing! Then I went and googled the ratings for Vanilla Sky and found I was in the minority. On IMDB the film has a rating of 6.9 and on Rotten Tomatoes a measly 41%.
So what gives? I was first recommended this movie by a cab driver one day. The driver gave a somewhat spoilery synopsis of the film and it sounded extremely convoluted, but hey, I love Tom Cruise so when I saw the DVD cheap at a pawn shop I grabbed it.
And I love the movie, a lot. It is based on a Spanish film, Abre Los Ojos. Cameron Crowe directs and adapted the screenplay for the English version. Tom Cruise plays David Aames, a young, vain, rich man that seems to have it all. That is until one of his lovers turns his whole world upside down.
There is something about this film that appeals to me on a deeply emotional level. It is hard to pin point why exactly. Part of it is that I relate to David quite a bit. I’m not rich like him, nor am I as confident. But I can relate to the hubris of youth somewhat. David feels invincible, nothing can touch him. Early on in the film he and his friend, Brian, nearly get hit by a truck. But they make a narrow escape. David laughs with glee, as he never really felt all that threatened to begin with. He’s young, good looking he has his whole life ahead of him.
But David is brought down by his own ego and whimsical attitude. Yes, it is the accident caused by his lover, Julie (Cameron Diaz) that in a lot of ways ruins his life. But this act is only a symptom of David’s own selfish actions. He treated Julie carelessly and didn’t care about the effect his frivolous actions had on her. But the accident is also a result of his sense of immortality, of never having anything go wrong. David falls in love with Sofia (Penelope Cruz) at first sight. He vows to change his ways and be a better person in order to be worthy of her love. But then Julie shows up, offering herself to him. Even though David is in love with Sofia he feels he can have his cake and eat it too. Why not have one last romp with Julie? Sofia will never know. Well it is that selfishness and ignorance that changes David’s whole life.
I find this film to be quite deep and it is able to convey a very strong message without being too preachy. It is an emotional film brought to life by some incredible acting, particularly Tom and Penelope. No wonder they started dating after filming this, the chemistry between them is great. Their scenes together are very touching and intense.
The film looks great, I love the use of bright colors. I also enjoy the foreshadowing that happens early on as well as some of the visual metaphors. I really like the structure of the film as well, which I think is probably what turns other people off the most. Vanilla Sky is sort of a dream within a dream kind of film which can feel like a cheap twist in a lot of films. But I think it really works here and simply strengthens the message of the film, it isn’t done to get a cheap shock out of the audience. I also really enjoy the pop culture references, particularly near the end of the film. The soundtrack is also phenomenal, anything that uses Bob Dylan gets an A+ in my book.
Simply put, I love Vanilla Sky because of the emotional impact it has on me every time I watch it. I’ve never felt so emotional about a film, nor have I been able to relate to one the way I do Vanilla Sky. It stays with you for a long time after watching it and it really makes you question how you behave in your own relationships. Vanilla Sky is also very creative and there is no other movie like it. I think it is extremely underrated and it is some of Cameron Crowe’s and Tom Cruise’s best work. Maybe I’m crazy, but I give Vanilla Sky 9.5/10
Please feel free to give your opinion of Vanilla Sky, whether you love it or hate it. I would love to hear your take on it.