January 6, 2015

Vanilla Sky

Cameron Crowe, 2001
Publishing empire heir David Ames (Tom Cruise) struggles to put the pieces back together in his life after a horrible automobile accident with lover Julie Gianni (Cameron Diaz)

Cameron Crowe is an interesting filmmaker, having taken many directions over the course of his career. He pursued his heart with Say Anything. He pursued his love of music (and of course his own history of journalism for Rolling Stone) with Almost Famous. He pursued personal reflection and personal unraveling in Jerry Maguire. He mistakenly tried to make a more populist kid-pleaser picture with We Bought a Zoo, but that feels like a film that didn't ultimately become what he had originally envisioned. But Vanilla Sky is his most interesting work, his most ambitious work, his most under-appreciated. It's already such a bold move taking one of the biggest actors in Hollywood at the time (Cruise), and disfiguring his face. That aside, he also demanded a big performance from Cruise who really did deliver. There are so many elements at work, some of them so obviously personal to Crowe. The way that this movie looks at love and death, memories, blossoming love. It hasn't been done exactly like this before. The effect of our memories on our subconscious. The impact of dreams. The toxic elements of our life that we fall into. Societal structure, technology, it's really all there. People often criticize this film for being too convoluted, confusing. That's actually quite surprising, because the reveal at the climax really does lay everything out there. The film really builds and builds, getting more complex. The final moments on screen our so powerful and emotional. It should have you questioning your own life, your own existence.

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