ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
The Royal Tenenbaums
A Beautiful Mind
Starring: Tom Cruise, Penélope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Jason Lee, Kurt Russell
Directed By: Cameron Crowe
Three stars (out of five)
With its star-studded cast, you'll either love or hate Vanilla Sky.
Priding itself on being a mind-bending thriller, the film would have been more effective had it not tried to incorporate so many twists. The attempt at over-explanation of the complex ending unfortunately devalues Vanilla Sky and allows the audience to lose sight of the apparent "little" messages.
Tom Cruise is David Aames, a wealthy publishing exec with the world at his feet. Before he met Sofia (Penelope Cruz), David had never experienced true love, but he throws it all away when he takes her for granted and makes one very costly mistake.
Almost suddenly, he is catapulted into a soul searching journey of confusion, illusion and sex.
Although there is potential for his character to develop more in the script, Cruise shows he is capable of playing diverse characters in this film and portrays the spoiled asshole well. Demerit points go to the screenplay, not the actors.
Cameron Diaz is another big-name actor with an increasing diverse resumé of characters. She has yet to make a film that fails miserably and as the sexy, yet vulnerable, Julie Gianni, Diaz proves she can be the out-of-control crazy woman (much like her characters in Very Bad Things and Being John Malcovich), just as well as she can be one of Charlie's Angels.
Jason Lee plays Brian Shelby, David's best and only true friend. It is not an extremely challenging role and Lee delivers with seeming ease.
Cruz is the most natural in her role as Sofia, the exotic and slightly mysterious woman whom David falls for. She is effective primarily because she doesn't go overboard, but performs with minimalist charm of which the film needs more.
The key to enjoying Vanilla Sky is to not try and understand all of Crowe's crazy twists. Sometimes it seems he's trying too hard to be clever, but it is the subtle, simple lessons that make his films most enjoyable.
As with life, one must take this film with all its good and bad qualities "the sweet and the sour."