Vanilla Sky movie poster
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Vanilla Sky Movie Review

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Jerry Maguire's star and director reunite in Vanilla Sky, a remake of the Spanish film Abre Los Ojos that is guaranteed to be one of the strangest trips you'll ever stumble across.

Tom Cruise plays a successful young man who owns a multi-million dollar magazine company, and who has a new flame around every corner. He is sleeping with one specific woman (Cameron Diaz), but to him they are just friends. When he meets Sofia (Penelope Cruz), though, things change and he begins to fall in love; however, his old flame isn't too happy and she drives them off a bridge, hideously scarring his face. From then on, things get weird to the point where you don't know what is real and what is a dream, and then beyond that point to a place where no one imagined this movie could go.

I haven't seen Abre Los Ojos (Open Your Eyes) but I must assume that the plot is relatively similar. Vanilla Sky is so weird and twisted that it is unlikely that director Cameron Crowe (Almost Famous, which was originally titled Vanilla Sky) was able to modify the story much. Every little thing matters in some way or another, and usually not the way that you'd expect. The opening sequence, in which Cruise encounters a dream, is foreshadowing that there are many more dream sequences to come, but you don't realize it at the time.

Vanilla Sky, to put it bluntly, is a hard movie to review. It has great direction, great action, and a mind-stumping plot, but because of the strangeness of the movie, it is hard to figure out whether I liked it or not. It is refreshing to see something come out of Hollywood that is really innovative and strange (of course, the movie is a remake), but then again, audiences can only take so much innovation. The audience is moved, trying to figure out how it will all end, and I think the ending is a little bit of a let down. It is so out of left field that twist ending fanatics will have no chance of guessing, and even for the not-so fanatics, the ending seems a little too weird and almost a little too convenient. Of course, you'll have to find out what happens yourself.

In terms of acting, Vanilla Sky is wonderful. I will not be surprised to see Tom Cruise standing behind the podium at Oscar time, for he is absolutely fabulous in this. Some fans will be disappointed that he is hideously scarred for half the film, and a little crazy at times, but then again, he plays his part so well that it is hard not to enjoy him. Vanilla Sky has to be his most ambitious and riskiest film to date, for it strays so much from normal fanfare that lots of people will be turned away by it.

Cameron Diaz also turns in a brilliant performance as the jealous lover. She is cute and flirtatious like she is in all of her movies, yet at the same time seductively and darkly sexy, with, of course, an evil vein running through her. She has a small part but a stand-out one, which will earn her some recognition outside her normal fare like Charlie's Angels and There's Something About Mary.

Penelope Cruz, who also played Sofia in Abre Los Ojos, turns in her best performance to date, being sexy, smart, and strong all at the same time. She is what everything revolves around, so it is important that she do a good job, and she performs wonderfully.

Even more stunning than the acting is the direction. Cameron Crowe is a top rate director, and he too plays it risky with some clever shots. Vanilla Sky, because of its plot, has a weird style to it, integrating flashbacks, dreams, and reality all together seamlessly, sometimes unnoticeably. Of course, Crowe plays tricks on the audience, but by the end, everything has fit into place.

Vanilla Sky is a very well done movie, but suffers from an overly strange plot. Some people will like it, but many will be annoyed with it, only because they want to see Tom Cruise in another Mission: Impossible 2. Myself? Vanilla Sky is mind-blowing, but maybe has a little too many turnarounds. The ending might be a little over the top. It also is a little slow, seeming much longer than its 135 minute running time.

Really, Vanilla Sky reminds me of a Kubrick film. It is messed up and gets weirder as the movie goes on, and the ending has a lot of similarities to A.I., which came out earlier this year and was not too popular with the popcorn-munching fans. Vanilla Sky could be an awesome film if you go in expecting exactly what the film is going to provide, but it is pretty much impossible to do it. Instead, you just have to go in figuring that things are going to go awry, and just hope that you are able to appreciate it fully. As for me, I liked the movie, but is much too strange for me to want to watch again.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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