One of the few critics who seems willing to give himself over to its fearless exuberant head-tripping labyrinth, Salon’s Andrew O’Hehir says “Cloud Atlas is a flawed and potentially ridiculous work and I loved it, and can’t wait to see it a second time (and then a third). Indeed, all of that is connected…”
I can appreciate a well-crafted work of Hollywood formula that gives the audience what it already knows it wants, at least up to a point, but I often come away feeling restless and unsatisfied. I’d almost always rather see the rare kind of pop spectacle that takes enormous risks, that reaches for grand themes, big ideas and operatic emotions, even if it makes indefensible mistakes along the way. That’s what “Cloud Atlas” is, the kind of oversize, overpriced movie that critic Stuart Klawans described in his book “Film Follies.” (The classic example would be D.W. Griffith’s silent epic “Intolerance,” which serves as a major model and influence here.) “Cloud Atlas” is arguably way too much of a good thing, with too many characters, too many stories, too many directors – Tom Tykwer of “Run Lola Run” and “Perfume,” and Andy and Lana Wachowski (né Larry) of the “Matrix” trilogy — and too much running time. But its too-muchness is also the source of its power; I was absolutely never bored, and felt surprised when the movie ended. It’s an amazing, baffling, thrilling and (for many, it would appear) irritating experience, and for my money the most beautiful and distinctive big-screen vision of the year.