Filmmaking siblings Lana and Andy Wachowski (The Matrix, Speed Racer) as well as Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run) share directing duties across the different segments, but they never make a case for why these stories are worth nearly three hours of our time. The occasional visual wonder aside, Cloud Atlas never connects on a deep level, keeping us at arm's length for a story that should reach into our souls. The best the film can muster is a few verbalized ideas about the afterlife and the desire for basic human dignity. But it offers nothing thematically that hasn’t been treated more thoughtfully—and more concisely—in other, better films dealing with the same ideas, whether set in the future or the past.

Cloud Atlas is designed to leave audiences thinking about human connections across the centuries, but it’s more likely to leave them thinking of the immediate past and the very near future, as in: a few hours ago they were several dollars richer, and soon they’ll be able to move on to other things.


  • Language/Profanity: Lord’s name taken in vain multiple times; several uses of the “f”-word; numerous uses of foul language; racial epithet
  • Alcohol/Smoking/Drugs: Several characters are shown smoking; drinking at a bar
  • Sex/Nudity: A man stands while he has sex with a woman who’s laying on a table; naked male backside shown; a man simulates an orgasm; a homosexual relationship is depicted; male lovers kiss each other; breast shown; a woman and man have sex, and her breasts are seen; euphemism for sexually transmitted disease
  • Violence/Crime: Several gunfights; people are shot; throats are slit; suicide by gunshot; a man is whipped; a man thrown off a balcony is shown hitting the pavement below; blood splattered on walls; a woman slaps a man; a car is forced off a bridge; skeletons cover the ground; a tooth dislodged during a bar fight; vomiting
  • Religion: Discussion of divine revelation; a character says death is a door; a description of an afterlife as "a better world" where people can wait for loved ones; discussion of past lives and future lives; depiction of demonic figure planting bad thoughts within a man; images of a goddess

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Publication date: October 26, 2012