I really recommend everyone to watch this movie. Regardless of what you have heard about it.
Vanilla Sky (2001)
User ReviewsReview this title
I really recommend everyone to watch this movie. Regardless of what you have heard about it.
This is a good movie. And Tom Cruise does a very good job in it. I think it's probably his best performance from what I've seen all though I haven't seen all of his movies, or even a majority of them probably. The supporting cast is good as well. Penelope Cruz gives a solid performance and Jason Lee was enjoyable.
I like the story, and I think that's what Vanilla Sky is more than anything. It's a mystery, an adventure, and a romantic comedy, but it's mostly just a good story. And it has a lot of philosophical undertones to it, and many similar ideas and stories like this occur in historical philosophy. David Aames (Cruise) is the man that had everything he wanted, more or less lost it, was given a second chance with a catch to regain it all back, and in the end facing his demons and the full scope of what is happening, chooses reality, simplicity, and normality to see if he can finally find the one thing he could never get a grip on: happiness.
Many people were disappointed that Crowe laid out the complete mystery at the end. I think it's necessary. The audience then knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that David is aware of his circumstances and it makes the choice at the end all the more powerful.
And the music in the movie is great. It's probably what makes the movie as enjoyable as it is. Particularly, "Njosnavelin" by Sigur Ros, which is an amazing song.
All in all, I'd give it 3 out 4 stars. It's a movie with some substance for those who like to think things through, and a great story for those looking to relax. That "moderate" approach is probably why people dislike it so much because it isn't a full blown mystery, or a full blown love story. It mixes and matches different elements and genres.
Vanilla Sky is a dark psychological drama about dreams, reality and 'what might have been'.
Tom Cruise is Dave, a yuppie who has it all. He has a 51% stake in his father's company, therefore the majority shareholder, and constantly finds himself in a battle to main his control over the '7 dwarves' who make up the rest of the board. His personal life is a mess, with a shallow relationship with Julie (Cameron Diaz) the closest he gets to love, while his best friend Brian (Jason Lee) who adores Julie sticks by him regardless.
However, on holding a birthday party he's introduced to Sofia (The perfect Penelope Cruz) and falls instantly for her.
This is all very well but the plot is parallel to a side story of Dave wearing a white mask in a cell with Dr McCabe (Kurt Russell) who's accusing him of murder and wants to understand why it happened.
Dave begins on a journey to make sense of his life.
I admit there is a 'Hollywoody' feel to this film, and given it's a remake of a Mexican/Spanish original also featuring Penelope Cruz it's probably disappointing to purists. But only viewing this on its own terms I absolutely love this movie. It keeps you guessing, and the ending is very conclusive.
It may not be to everyone's taste, but I loved it.
Visually, because the film is soft and delicate at times (early scenes with Sofia) and at other times powerful and intense (Times Square, post-climactic scenes).
The music and sounds tie into this movie so perfectly. Without the music, the story is only half told. Nancy Wilson created an emotional, yet eclectic, score for the film which could not be more suitable for such a dream-like theme (although never released, I was able to get my hands on the original score for about $60. If you look hard, you may be able to find a copy yourself). Crowe's other musical selections, such as The Beach Boys, Josh Rouse, Spiritualized, Sigur Ros, the Monkees, etcetera etcetera, are also perfect fits for the film (Crowe has an ear for great music).
More importantly, the emotional themes in this film (i.e. love, sadness, regret) are very powerful, and are amplified tenfold by the visual and musical experience, as well as the ingenious dialogue; I admit, the elevator scene brings tears to my eyes time and time again.
The best part of this film however (as if it could get any better) is that it is so intelligently crafted such that each time you see the film, you will catch something new--so watch closely, and be prepared to think! Sure, a theme becomes obvious after the first or second watch, but there is always more to the story than you think.
This is easily Cameron Crowe's best work, and altogether a work of brilliance. Much of my film-making and musical inspiration comes from this work alone. It has honestly touched my life, as true art has a tendency of doing. It continually surprises me that there are many people that cannot appreciate this film for what it is (I guess to understand true art is an art itself).
Bottom line: Vanilla Sky is in a league of its own.
Its a movie that really makes you step back and look at your life and how you live it. You cannot really appreciate the better things in life (the sweet), like love, until you have experienced the bad (the sour). The theme will really get you to "open your eyes".
Only complaint is that the movie gets very twisted at points and is hard to really understand. I think the end is perfect though. I recommend you watch it and see for yourself.
Admittedly, David likes to play; still, he's in control of the business and does what he sees fit, whether the board (he refers to them as the `Seven Dwarfs') likes it or not, and no one has ever had the courage to challenge him directly. But during a lavish birthday party in his honor, one of the corporate lawyers, Thomas Tipp (Timothy Spall) warns David that the seven are up to something behind his back. At the time, however, it's the last thing on David's mind; he's been having a casual affair with a friend, Julie Gianni (Cameron Diaz), but even that moves to the back burner when he meets a woman at his party that he can't get out of his mind. Her name is Sofia (Penelope Cruz), and after knowing her for only one night, she becomes a pivotal part of his life-- which is about to be turned upside down, as on the morning after his party he makes a decision that will change his life forever. And he is about to learn that sometimes, there is simply no going back.
Director Cameron Crowe has crafted and delivered much more than just another film with this one; far more than a movie, `Vanilla Sky' is a vision realized. Beginning with the first images that appear on screen, he presents a visually stunning experience that is both viscerally and cerebrally affecting. It's a mind-twisting mystery that will swallow you up and sweep you away; emotionally, it's a rush-- and it may leave you exhausted, because it requires some effort to stay with it. But it's worth it. Think `Memento' with a driving rock n' roll soundtrack and a vibrant assault of colors proffered by the stroke of an impressionist's brush. There's darkness and light, and sounds that pound and drive until you can feel the blood rushing through your veins and throbbing in your brain. And all played out on a landscape of virtual reality swirling beneath that ever expanding vanilla sky. Simply put, this one's a real trip; it's exciting-- and it's a mind bender.
As to the performances here, those who can't get past the mind-set of Tom Cruise as Maverick in `Top Gun,' or his Ethan Hunt in `Mission Impossible,' or those who perceive him only as a `movie star' rather than an actor, are going to have to think again in light of his work here. Because as David Aames, Cruise gives the best performance of his career, one that should check any doubts as to his ability as an actor at the door. He's made some interesting career choices the past few years, with films like `Magnolia' and `Eyes Wide Shut' merely warm-ups for the very real and complex character he creates here. And give him credit, too, for taking on a role that dispels any sense of vanity; this is Cruise as you've never seen him before. `Jerry Maguire' earned him an Oscar nomination, and this one should, also-- as well as the admiration and acclaim of his peers. Cruise is not just good in this movie, he is remarkable.
Penelope Cruz turns in an outstanding, if not exceptional performance, as well, as Sofia, the woman of David's dreams. There's an alluring innocence she brings to this role that works well for her character and makes her forthcoming and accessible, yet she lacks any hint of mystery that may have added that special `something extra' to the part. But Crowe knows how to get the best out of his actors, and he certainly did with Cruz.
He also knew what he was doing with Cameron Diaz, who is absolutely vibrant in the role of Julie. She's never looked better, and fairly sizzles on screen. But make no mistake, this is no `window-dressing' part, and Diaz delivers a complete package with this character. The quality of her performance can be measured, in fact, in the impact she makes with rather limited screen time. And it's the persona she integrates so fully with her innate beauty that makes Julie so unforgettable. Overall, a terrific job by Diaz.
The supporting cast includes Kurt Russell (Dr. McCabe), Jason Lee (Brian), Johnny Galecki (Peter), Armand Schultz (Dr. Pomerantz), Noah Taylor (Ed), Mel Thompson (`L.E.' Man), Jean Carol (Woman in New York) and John Fedevich (Silent Ed). About half-way through, this one may have you questioning your own sense of reality; but rest assured, by the end of `Vanilla Sky' all will be revealed. It's a reality-bender, to be sure, and a wild one; but this is exciting entertainment that offers a satisfying-- and unique-- experience, one you have to see to believe. It's the essential, and absolute, magic of the movies. 10/10.
I never thought about Tom Cruise being an insane murderer, driven to extremes because of his guilt.
To me, the central message of the movie is that one moment in life, ONE moment, can change things forever. It's a life lesson that smacks you in the face like brick. For David, the one moment is that he has treated this girl like a toy, with no respect, and she's hurt by it, and in her rage and love for him, angrily tries to kill them both because it hurts too much. She can't stand being his love puppet any more. She WANTS to be taken seriously by him, but to David, she's just a toy.
And I absolutely love the way this movie weaves in modern technology as a possible way "out" of a bad reality that we have created for ourselves through our own rash decisions. It shows a potentially frightening future of being able to "live how we wanted to" after we die, through a prolonged filtered dream life.
To me, this movie is really a mix of techno future, drama, alternate reality, and maybe even slightly fantasy. Not at all a psychological thriller/murder mystery in the least! What happens between him and Sophia, or the supposed murder, is secondary to the central theme of trying to alter one's real life through suicide induced "after-life".
I see this as a kind of a "Heavy Metal" type graphic novel fantasy story, in which a young man who has a devastating accident and can no longer handle the loneliness and pain of living as a disfigured mutation in society. In desperation, he turns to prolonging his life after he commits suicide, and does it in a very haunting way, the "lucid dream" in which he can have whomever he wants as a lover, have whatever life he wants, or should have had if things had not gone so wrong.
I don't think that the tech support man at the end of the movie ruins anything....in fact I like that he explains what happened to David. To me the explanation makes the whole fabric of the story that much more haunting.
To me, the plot was actually pretty straightforward. And I personally feel that his life was completely real up until the point he committed suicide. At that point the company that froze his body switched on the "lucid dream option", which begins by Sophia accepting his disfigurement and picking him up off the street and taking him in(the point where David's life is over, and the lucid dream kicks in), and they fall in love all over again. What a lot of movie goers failed to grasp was that David was not DREAMING or hallucinating what he wanted in life while he was still alive....but that half of the movie actually takes place with him already dead.
And another thing that movie goers really failed to grasp onto....was that all that was really happening in the second half of the movie was what the tech guy said it was..a GLITCH! And I love that concept! That maybe the company hadn't worked out fully the technology of the lucid dream, and that things could go wrong in this death/dream state. That's why tech support had to go in and enter David's world just like another character.
I mean think about it...if you are already in a lucid dream state, the only way tech support could reach you is to enter your dream state and explain what is going wrong! I think of it like a very, very weird type of internet support, except YOU are the subject of tech, and the glitch is in your head.
So, for me this movie is a fantastic vision of the regrets we have in life, and the decisions that led up to those regrets, and...and what if.....what if we could actually have a way to take the consequences away, to take the pain away? That girl that slipped away? That job we didn't take? That thing we wanted to say, but never said before our father died? Make it all better? And, what if while we tried to do that, something went wrong with the technology? I just think that simple premise alone makes Vanilla Sky a haunting masterpiece.
Tom Cruise's character is lost in his own dreams. After all,his life was a dream - handsome, young, rich....but as it often happens dreams do turn into nightmares because most of us lack the ability or the will to control them. And that I think is the message of the movie - you are the master of your own fate, the master of your own life and you (no one else) possess the power to control it. This is a movie about the "revolution of the mind", a movie about the freedom of choice and the fear to face an important decision.
The crew of the movie is also incredible. The actors (well at least most of them) do try hard to create the personality of their characters. The music is breathtaking. In many cases it is in absolute contrast with the events, just like in a dream and yet there is a strange symbiosis between the movie and the soundtrack. Just remember the scene where Tom Cruise killed Cruz and the song was "What if God was one of us" and I think you'll get the picture.
The end although a bit confusing at first is exactly in it's place - beneath the vanilla sky, the symbol of freedom. It is a logical end to the journey of Cruise's character trough his mind and fantasies - facing his greatest fear. He faces it not to fulfill his dream, but to escape from it and live a complete and real life.
The meaning of the movie is well hidden behind the car crash, the disformed Tom Cruise and the jumping scenes but if you watch really carefully and pay attention you will find much more to it than you expected. It's like the voice in the beginning and in the end is that of the director himself who is trying to tell the viewers to open there eyes. This is my advice to the people who watched "Vanilla sky" and didn't like it - Watch it again and OPEN YOUR EYES!!!!!!
Note: the key word in the previous sentence was intellectual. If anyone expects a timid, bland conventional film, they will be disappointed. This is not a romantic film, nor a formulaic film. But it is an exercise into the intellectual psyche of our David Aames character as he plays back the sequences that lead to his arrest for a murder. As aforementioned, intellectualism is the key to this film. Viewers must enthral themselves into this film to appreciate its unique blend of flashback sequences, musical incorporation as only Crowe can do and mind-bending storytelling that throws you a curve at every unexpected turn. Before people begin to think that everyone will love this film, you must not make my words control your opinions. Many will completely dislike this film, in fact, I am sure only a minority will actually truly see this film for what it is. Not since David Fincher's 'Fight Club' has there been a film so out there' that remains engrained within your thoughts long after the film and thus remains open to such misunderstandings. Cameron Crowe directs Cameron Diaz in a short; albeit juicy role, as Aames' jealous casual squeeze that begins to feel threatened at the appearance of Aames' interest in the mystical Sophia (Penelope Cruz). This emergence of interest between Aames and Sophia causes Diaz's character to spiral into a whirlwind of rage as the movie propels itself into a different stratosphere after the simple yet effectively shot car crash. If one were to study the acting within the film, the attention will be directed towards Cruise's performance as we get to see both sides of this womanizing yet desperately lonely figure who searches for something more.
And as audiences leave the theatre, they too will want something more. They will want answers. This film makes for hours of interesting debate and conversation as every scene can be meticulously deconstructed and analyzed as it culminates into one of the most absolutely twist endings in recent memory. Yet, that it is not to say that the film contains no imperfections. Crowe makes no secret of shmaltzing' his way through pacing and character development in the film and making sure we fall for the wrong clues. Furthermore, he enjoys capturing his characters in their most brutal and defenceless moments. Also, Crowe wants to hammer the notion that our main character is not what he seems. Also, many might find the film pretentious for its slow pacing and tedious flashback story telling, which I myself found a turn off and took some time getting used, but one cannot deny the brilliance of the film. Without a doubt, many will criticize the film for its' ambitiousness that it might not have achieved according to some, but this is just too great of a character piece to dislike. It is haunting, it is disturbing and it is exquisitely filmed with some great moments of cinematography notice NYC's archaic overhead shots, Bob Dylan's Album Cover brought to life and Cruise's fall to earth in the film's unravelling moments. Notwithstanding the film's frenetic back and forth storytelling, and it's over the top character development, this film must not go unwatched. See it for Cruise's performance, or see it for the direction, but see the film. This is a film that will leave many baffled throughout the entire third act, making us hang on every detail that may or may not unravel the film's explanation.
After viewing the film, many will feel let down or even mislead by its' seemingly surreal sci-fi ending which may turn on or turn off viewers. Total Recall' may come to mind for those film buffs who really studied the film and understood it to its' fullest extent, yet Vanilla Sky' will long not be forgotten as the film that even if one were to follow the tagline Open Your Eyes', they still won't exactly know what the hell happened.
Giancarlo's Rating: ***1/2
So, what is left? The producers, obviously, believed that the story would appeal to the American public, for otherwise they wouldn't have spent a considerable amount of money filming it but, in this case, wouldn't have been simpler to release the original in AMC theaters around the country? The only explanation I can find, one that is rather insulting for the American public, is the following. Hollywood producers believe that the mainstream spectator will not see a film unless it falls completely within the expected (and very restricted, Hollywood canons). So, the setting has to be a familiar American setting (New York instead of Madrid) and there has to be the usual sprinkle of known American actors (Tom Cruise). But, most important, the dialog has an undefinable Hollywood quality: just the mix of witty, sad, and sugary to which Hollywood films have accustomed the American public.
This film, in other words, is an explicit insult: Hollywood is telling us that they got us so use to their style of crap that the only way for us to go see a film is to make it into crap.
What is truly sad is that they might be right: Vanilla Sky was a discrete success. On the other hand (and I quote Barnum paraphrasing Mencken): `Nobody ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the American public.'
In fact, you can say it very simple : if you have only watched Vanilla Sky, than you're in for a movie that reaches some nice intellectual heights for an American movie with an original ending. But, if you see this movie and then see the original (or if you had already seen that one), Vanilla Sky suddenly becomes a quite lame movie. Which is a shame actually, because I like Tom Cruise and certainly because he has given the attention to Amenabar he deserves. Cruise has always been to me one of better actors in America. But Cruise should have known that the quality of the original could never have been injected in the remake. There are a lot of things which make the original better, but now I'm going to give the 3 main points why this movie is way underneath the original :
1)the performances : how hard Cruise tries, he never puts as much tragedy and quality in his role as Eduardo Noriega. But this goes for every actor here (also Cruz, who had a more sharp, vivid character in the original)
2)the approach : the original is more scary, leaves more to the imagination of the audience and has a better ending (yes, vanilla sky manages to remove some of the intensity of the original ending!!)
3)the music!!! : although the songs on their own are good (2 songs from my fave band REM), the music is just totally inappropriate and actually ruins some of the scenes. you know what i'm talking about when you can compare the 2 movies
therefore 1 advice : just go see Abre Los Ojos and wait until Vanilla Sky comes on television, late at night. Ironically, that's what the special featurette on the VHS edition suggests!!!
Even when you compare the amazing Penelope Cruz's two performances there was so much more in the first film. She had this sweet haunting eloquence that was not present in the latter. Then we come to Tom Cruise who can ofttimes be so hit and miss with his acting (yes I know this will earn me scorn, but its true), there are films he's done where he is brilliant, The Last Samurai, Born on the 4th of July. This felt like one of his more pedestrian performances, much could be said for Cameron Diaz in this as well.
Perhaps if I had not seen Abre Los Ojos my opinion of this would have been vastly different I really can't be sure, but it was sad for me because I desperately wanted to like this.
Yes, it's a pointless remake. "Abre los ojos" is perfectly watchable for everyone. You don't have to be a fan of European cinema to enjoy that movie. The original is also just a tiny bit better but that doesn't mean that "Vanilla Sky" itself is a bad movie on its own. It has some great acting performances from Tom Cruise and especially Cameron Diaz in it. Quite honestly, I have never seen Diaz acting better in any other movie. Other well know actors in this movie are Penélope Cruz (who reprises her role from the original but she isn't halve as good in this movie as she was in the original.), Kurt Russell, Noah Taylor, Jason Lee and Timothy Spall with who Cruise later teamed up again for "The Last Samurai".
The atmosphere is good. New York is the perfect background for the movie its story. The story is good and surprising enough for everyone to enjoy even though at times it tries too hard to be confusing.
It's a good movie but you're still better of watching the original. Are the many difference between this movie its story and that of the original? Hardly, both movies are very similar with the story, sequences and even dialog. Still "Abre los ojos" is a better movie because it builds up the story and characters better and has a better, more powerful and surprising executed ending.
I was prepared to not like this film; Crowe too consistently centers his vision on the cheap shot. And Cruise -- well, it is hard to be an intelligent actor when you're as dumb as a flagpole knob. I found my worst fears to be true, but also found some strong, really strong elements that make this worth watching.
First the bad. Most films are built on other films; some -- especially recently -- openly quote other films. Some of these are also in the category of films about constructed realities, and that's when things can get interesting: you go to a film to construct a reality for you, and the story is about constructing a reality. Often these fold with sophistication. But here they do this intrinsically intelligent thing in a fifth grade dumb way. Not Monet, but paint by the numbers.
The film is about fantasy love and deciding between lovers. Rather than quote 'Jules and Jim' on this in a light way as anyone else would: Crowe puts a floor-to-ceiling poster in Cruise's bedroom, then when a voice ('tech support') explains that the constructed images were taken from movies, we see an actual clip. Those of us who Crowe targets would immediately recognize the quote of Bob Dylan's most famous album cover. But instead of quoting it like Greenaway would use a famous painting, we are walked through it with chalk.
Patronizing. Embarrassing. Discouraging. Does he think we all move lips when reading?
But there are two really fascinating things. I believe that Crowe's imagination is based in popular music first, with the image to follow, and actors and story getting dragged in a matter of course. So the effect of the music is more powerful than any I recall. He deftly binds it, even having Cruise take up a song at one point. This is the deepest use of Dylan in a long time. For those of us that are Crowe's age, there is a cool take on the Beatles: in the late sixties, the game was that drugs could help you create your own reality. The Beatles provided three alternative worlds for you to choose. It really was a matter of pervasive discussion about choosing (or 'liking') John, Paul or George.
Once the topic comes up in the film, everything from there can be seen as making a choice. John would have stayed in fantasyland. George would have declared the whole thing irrelevant and opted out. Paul would have gone back to the 'real' world. The film ends with Paul's song. Now that's the kind of near-subtlety that's missing in the story at large.
The other thing is no small matter. It purely blew me away, using a cinematic effect I have never experienced before. The whole film is storytelling by reference; what is new is storytelling by direct reference to characters previously played by the cast!
Start with Alicia Witt and work outwards from the center. (Alicia was the receptionist at LE, named Libby who is the first person involved in the dream mechanics.) She played an identical, small center as the whorehouse pianist in 'Liebestraum' (get the name?), also as the fulcrum of folded visions.
Diaz played the shunned girlfriend in the last popular film dealing with constructed realities, 'Malkovich.' Russell plays Douglas playing the character who recreates the narrative. It is the complement of his role in 'Wonder Boys,' where he was the creator, but real; and a complement of a different sort of him in 'The Game,' where he was the target, not the creator. His work here and in 'Boys' are knowingly referential to his other roles. Very tight selfreferential acting. Kudos to him, it makes up for a whole previous life of selfindulgent frippery. (Made right by his finding his own film Latin love.)
And then there is Cruise himself. 'Eyes Wide Shut' is this very same movie (so Kubrick even said in reference to the Spanish original), but with no quarter given to the less astute viewer. How cool that he would come to this very much dumber version while his exwife went to something more elaborately and cinematic ally selfreferential in 'Moulin Rouge,' (a real thrill that should be seen right after either 'Eyes' or 'Little Voice').
And finally we have Cruz, whose reference is to an external movie of a different type: this same film. Except the original is more a film where this is a composite of films. She plays her role not in this film, but here in reference to there as if she herself was Jeanne Moreau. And if there ever was a case of films constructing reality, how sweet to have Tom and Penny fall in 'love.'
Simply love it! I think it teaches a lot of life that some actions have deep consequences...and we never may go back to change it or even to erase...because "you can erase something from your mind.Getting from the heart is another story." (in "Sunshine of the spotless mind").
I can say that this movie change me in a lot of ways. The way I saw my life and specially the way I saw love...
As soon as I known that the "Vanilla Sky" was a remake of a Spanish movie "Abre los Ojos" I saw at once the Spanish which I also liked and made me understand a little bit more about the story but I made my choice. I prefer Vanilla Sky, I felt in love with him! The soundtrack is also very good (radiohead, sigur rós ...)
"I see you in another life...when we are both cats."
There is an acting exercise that involves using masks to free the actor to enrich his presentation of character by verbal and body language means. Cruise's masking only painfully emphasizes his inadequacy as an actor. Do see the 1997 original Amenabar Open Your Eyes!