Cloud Atlas is a sprawling, complex, beautiful, and brilliant feature film. It encompasses such a broad horizon of places, times, and stories with such ease that we are led through this epic at times majestically and by the hand, other times thrown into the action. The combination of directing styles works better than expected, and the actors each play so many roles here that they can showcase their true talents of adapting to fill a different skin, quite literally. One of the most ambitious movies I have ever seen, Cloud Atlas is a tremendous success in simply its ability to so carefully tell six interweaving storylines, add to that the strong script and soundtrack, coupled with wonderful acting, and you have one of the most unique films you will ever see.
Cloud Atlas tells six different stories, ranging from a historical adventure in 1850 to an allegorical post-apocalyptic tale told many, many years into the future. Stars Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Jim Sturgess, Ben Whishaw, Bae Doona, Hugo Weaving, James D’Arcy, Hugh Grant, and Susan Sarandon all play a part in each of these six chronicles, often playing characters that define the age or even race of the actor. The other stories take place in the 1930s, 1970s, 2012, and the 22nd century respectively. Each of these threads are told with tribute to their individual genre, be it corporate espionage or dystopian future, and they all blend in to one solid plot. Clocking in at just under 3 hours, Cloud Atlas feels like it contains more than is possible in one film, because of the multitude of threads we feel as if we have known the characters their whole lives. The different stories fit together smoothly and by the conclusion, it feels like we have witnessed one coherent and extensive story arc.