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Vanilla Sky (2001) - R
David Ames is a successful, insultingly young, NYC magazine publisher whose good looks, power, and charm make him despised among work partners and adorable to every women he meets; including long time 'sleeping partner' Julie, and, the newly discovered ingenue beauty Sofia. After the feckless Ames' bizarre scenario with the distraught Julie proves fatal, things get a bit chaotic. Suddenly Ames is in prison wearing a facial prosthetic and discussing the depths of his tortured psyche. With his psychologist trying to deduce the reasons behind the death of Ames' girlfriend, Sofia, it seems they must uncover the death of another person first. But who is this "mystery person", and why does Ames think it has something to do with an innovative technology company?
Directed by: Cameron Crow.
Tagline: "I don't know what's real anymore."
Though a remake of the former "Abre los Ojos" (1997), Cameron Crowe's “Vanilla Sky” is nothing short of a spectacular American Adaptation that brings a fresh breath of air to movie theaters worldwide. With a unique story line and the prospects of a budget that will spare no expense to convey Crowe's vision, VANILLA SKY delivers, not only with Hollywood flare, but also with a depth and insight of an independent film that has finally achieved backing by major financial support.
The cinematography is nothing short of amazing. Vivid special effects, details in lighting, color, scene change, and backdrop, mixed with the most precise soundtrack imaginable, render this film a visual and auditory treat for the senses, long dulled-down by the monotony of Hollywood blockbusters. Keeping in mind the forewarning that he should make things obvious whenever possible, Crowe adamantly opted to do precisely the opposite; the result being an introspective/retrospective mind bender that forces you to watch the film closely…and then watch it again. Every revisit promises something new, a detail unnoticed, a parody slipped by, a witty euphemism lost in the first delivery of the dialogue. Moreover, every revisit promises continual appreciation and understanding for both the vision and intent of the film and its director. In fact, often those who have give a negative review, also confess they didn’t quite understand the film, nor did they pay very close attention; leaving one to assume that this is not a film for someone who wants simple visual stimulation. VANILLA SKY is much more than a turn it on and tune it out film. Still interested, then read on.
VANILLA SKY follows the tragic story of anti-hero David Aames (Tom Cruise), wealthy co-owner, alongside the tempestuous ‘seven dwarfs’, of his father's thriving company. During Aames birthday bash, solo true confidante, free-lance author Brian Shelby (Jason Lee), enters Aames mansion in the company of the mesmerizing Sofia (Penelope Cruz). With instant attraction evident between Sofia and Aames, it is only a matter of moments before the two are destined to spend the most hopefully enlightening night of their lives in the pleasure of each other’s company. Just when love and happiness seem possible, Aames makes a fatal decision to enter the car of his casual fling, the torturously beautiful, yet characteristically bland, Julie Gianni (Cameron Diaz). Desperate for Aames commitment, Julie commits suicide, flying her car through a guardrail, off a bridge, and into a brick wall. Having survived, Aames is left permanently disfigured, both with a ruptured shoulder, and irreparable facial damage.
Falling into a pit of despair, Aames withdraws from society, and ultimately work, losing control and sight of all that once seemed possible. To worsen matters, his chance for a life with Sofia seems all but shattered as his next encounter with her leaves more to want between the two. Sofia too tortured by the pain in Aames' character, and Aames’ too insecure to believe in himself or her, resort to a separation. What ensues is a chaotic mess of reality and imaginary dream visions where Aames is left imprisoned after allegedly killing Sofia, who was purportedly his long time girlfriend.
As Aames works with the help of Dr. McKabe, the two try to unfold David's past, and recall the events of one particular day; a day that Aames neither can nor wishes to remember. With time against his side, Aames must reconcile his fate on that day long ago, and unlock the door that holds the ‘key to all his dreams’.
Though "Abre los Ojos" was just as good, it was, in a way, entirely different; the two are incomparable, plot aside. It is with much emphasis that I recommend seeing both for your own edification. However, if subtitles are not your thing, I recommend staying with the Crowe's adaptation. It is brilliant in dialogue, cinematography, plot, conjecture, delivery, etc., etc., etc. Moreover, the film is supported by the vision of a reputable director, and the solid performances of an A-list cast.
Though the film might leave one confused upon first take, be patient. This is a film that will require intense focus and attention to detail. Moreover, it might render a better opinion the second time over. With so much to offer, and so much variance from all that was before, VANILLA SKY is a milestone in blockbusters a long time awaited.
David Aames, played by Tom Cruise, is the mentally racked, fatally destined protagonist, whose very life depends on his ability to recall a very disconcerting past.
Julie Gianni, played by Cameron Diaz, is the blonde bombshell that, carelessly used, falls into an incurable despair.
Sofia Serrano, played by Penelope Cruz, is the beloved heroine whose uncanny ways are the saving grace of the tortured Aames.
Brian Shelby, played by Jason Lee, is the free-lance author and sole confidante of the much-despised Aames.
Thomas Tipp, played by Timothy Spall, is the loyal lawyer, and longtime family friend of the David Aames.
Dr. Curtis McCabe, played by Kurt Russell, is the psychiatrist turned father figure, who is charged with the goal of unlocking Aames tortured past.
Edmund Ventura, played by Noah Taylor, is the unconventional, dis-alarming Tech Support.