Of all the 150 or so world premieres at the Toronto International Film Festival, which is getting underway as we speak, the one we're perhaps most curious about is "Cloud Atlas." An epic adaptation from the Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer of David Mitchell's excellent best-seller, the film spans thousands of years, with six separate storylines featuring an all-star cast of Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Ben Whishaw, Jim Sturgess, Jim Broadbent, Doona Bae, James D'Arcy, Hugh Grant, Hugo Weaving, Keith David, Susan Sarandon and more, playing multiple roles of different genders and races in a genre-hopping, independently produced epic.
In a recent, revelatory profile of Andy and Lana Wachowski in the New Yorker, revolving around their uphill battle to make the film, they explained that "Cloud Atlas" is their attempt to make their version of something like "2001: A Space Odyssey." That was certainly evidenced in an expansive six-minute trailer that surfaced a little while back, which suggested something visually amazing, and unlike anything else that'll be in theaters this year. Still, we've heard wildly mixed things about the film, some calling it a triumph, others an out-and-out disaster, and a new trailer that just debuted over at Apple doesn't give it away which it'll be.
Much of the footage has been seen before, but there's a few more tidbits (highlight: the first glimpse of a secondary character for Whishaw, as a hippieish record store employee), and stuff that's both impressive (hoverbike action!) and dispiriting (Halle Berry's line readings!). The New Yorker profile, full of insights into the directors and their films, quotes Lana as saying "‘Cloud Atlas’ is a twenty-first-century novel. It represents a midpoint between the future idea that everything is fragmented and the past idea that there is a beginning, a middle, and an end, a project that they hoped would "reconnect to that feeling we had when we were younger, when we saw films that were complex and mysterious and ambiguous. You didn’t know everything instantly.”
Ambitious and admirable intentions for sure, but only time will tell if the film pays off. Fortunately, there's not long to wait, as "Cloud Atlas" screens at TIFF this weekend, and we'll have our verdict for you then. In the meantime, check the trailer out below, or in HD over at Apple.