Urban Cinefile
"He has a wonderful sense of humour and is constantly in a side show, circus manner, juggling people's energies in order to get what he wants."  -Marton Csokas on xXx director Rob Cohen
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday September 15, 2020 

Printable page PRINTABLE PAGE



Wealthy young New York publishing heir David Aames (Tom Cruise) is cruising through life with disdain for his company board and a freewheeling lifestyle. His buddy Jane (Cameron Diaz) occasionally sleeps with him, but when David meets Sophia (Penélope Cruz), Jane’s attitude changes dramatically, to overtly possessive. One morning she takes him on a drive that shatters his life. Slowly, David’s dreams and his reality start to collide and fuse as he becomes increasingly unstable, never quite sure of either himself or Sophia … or Jane … are they the same?

Review by Louise Keller:
In a sharp departure from Jerry Maguire and Almost Famous, Cameron Crowe grapples with psychological enigma in Vanilla Sky, a beguiling drama that canvasses reality, dreams and the power of the subconscious. It's an ambitious and interesting film that tackles big issues, and while there is much to stimulate, it is certain not to please all Crowe's fans. The script is complex and multi-layered and the story is best discovered, rather than having too many elements revealed. In some ways it reminds me of a unique and striking mirror in Roger Verge's superb restaurant Moulin de Mougin in the South of France. The mirror comprises myriads of tiny pieces, cut in different shapes and forming a glittering collage on the wall. Each piece sparkles like a diamond and reflects light at different angles, a little like a kaleidescope. But it has its frustrations as images are fragmented. So too does Vanilla Sky form a kaleidescope that pierces into our minds, exploring the light, the shade and the depths of darkness. The charismatic star power of Tom Cruise anchors the film: Cruise embodies the character wholly and with conviction. He slides from rich, charmer to vulnerable victim effortlessly and the mask he wears is not always cosmetic. Cameron Diaz injects subtle complexity into her flighty Julie, while petite and alluring Penélope Cruz is her antithesis. It's good casting all around, and I especially like Kurt Russell's psychologist and the cameos by Noah Taylor and Tilda Swinton in small but crucial roles. We are driven into dark and sometimes uncomfortable corners of our subconscious, and at times we can't wait to come out into the light. It is compelling, claustrophobic, confusing, piquant and certainly too long. Cinematically, however, the film looks great and the sequence in New York's Time Square, emptied of life and activity is extremely haunting. Music is integral to its heart, and while Vanilla Sky may not be the crowd pleaser of Crowe's previous films, it is nonetheless an engrossing and tempestous journey into the abyss of the mind.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
LoveHateDreamsLifeWorkPlayFriendshipSex – that’s the tagline on the colour flyer for Vanilla Sky, under a picture of Tom Cruise looking over his shoulder, perhaps a bit bewildered. Even the film’s publicity runs its ideas together in the hope of an effect which is not entirely clear – or certain. Inside the production notes, costume designer Betsy Heimann adds to this sense of dislocation when she says "Everything about this movie is not what it seems." Not even the syntax. But that’s what happens when you take a profoundly European idea and import it to America. Now, some people have said this is the film that Eyes Wide Shut should have been. That, too, was based on a European idea (novel). This is based on a European film. And it suffers from the same predicament as did that other Tom Cruise vehicle. I happen to think that Stanley Kubrick’s filmmaking sensibilities are closer to Europe than are Cameron Crowe’s – notwithstanding the admiration I have for Crowe. Vanilla Sky starts out so well, with such intrigue and such a sense of freshness, you can feel the breeze of the Spanish coast. This is despite the very New York setting. The film’s effect, like the tagline, is cumulative and there is an undeniable appeal in the complex and intriguing search for self and reality that Tom Cruise’s David Aames goes through. Aames, of course, is aimless when we meet him, confused when we follow him and confident of who knows what when we take our leave. Cruise and Cruz are the stars, but for my money, it's Cameron Diaz who steals the show with a remarkably complex, subtle and eerie performance. The film rockets along for half its running time with a sense of expectation, which begins to wane as we move further into fantasy and science fiction. It’s as if the orchestra was playing the shrill, escalating notes of musical anticipation as we search for the climax that pays off the investment. This is where the film lacks and where it turns our wonder and awe into something of a disappointment. On the other hand, it deserves your attention and while it may not work as completely as Crowe’s Almost Famous, it’s a fascinating foray into the fires of fantasy gone feral.

Email this article

Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 2

PAULA WAGNER interview by Nick Roddick



CAST: Tom Cruise, Penélope Cruz, Kurt Russell, Cameron Diaz, Jason Lee

DIRECTOR: Cameron Crowe

PRODUCER: Tom Cruise, Paula Wagner

SCRIPT: Alejandro Amenabar, Mateo Gil, Cameron Crowe


EDITOR: Joe Hutshing, Mark Livolsi

MUSIC: Nancy Wilson

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Catherine Hardwicke

RUNNING TIME: 136 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 20, 2001

© Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2020