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Emotionally Exhausting Sky Ultimately Frustrates

  • Holly McClure Movie Reviewer
  • 2001 11 Nov
  • COMMENTS
Emotionally Exhausting <I>Sky</I> Ultimately Frustrates
Vanilla Sky – R

Best for: Mature adults

What it’s about: David Aames (Tom Cruise) is the executive of a New York City publishing company inherited from his father. His good looks, charm and wealth lead to a life of sleeping with women (Cameron Diaz) who don’t mean anything to him, abusing the few friends (Jason Lee) who truly care for him and constantly doubting the loyalty of his firm.

On his birthday, David throws his own lavish party and ends up meeting the woman of his dreams, (Penelope Cruz) falling madly in love with her. The next day, through a course of bizarre events, David’s life is thrown into a world of suspicion and murder. Kurt Russell plays the psychiatrist assigned to help David sort out the truth from fiction, so he can find out what really happened.

The good: For those expecting a traditional drama-love story, forget about it! This movie plays like Jerry Maguire meets Fatal Attraction in A Christmas Carol.

The intense story explores David’s life from three different angles: his business world, love life and soul. It’s a mind-bending, romance-thriller-drama that keeps you constantly guessing, and emotionally drained. Numerous plot twists take the audience in several directions.

Director and writer Cameron Crowe knows how to direct a riveting movie, incorporating great music. However, the complicated script could prove to be Crowe’s toughest challenge. He includes abundant close-ups of Cruise, who brandishes his trademark smile.

This is one of Cruise’s more demanding roles, and he does a good job at playing a man who’s been damaged, scarred and cheated by the choices he’s made and the attitude he’s taken about life. The other Cruz proves she’s indeed beautiful, charming and adorable, but her difficulty with tough dialogue keeps the audience at a distance.

Diaz shines in a departure from her traditional characters, playing a woman who pathetically chases a man who doesn’t love her, sleeps with him several times and awkwardly tries to convince him that “when you sleep with someone your body makes a promise.” That scene (and her character) is a painful but poignant one that will ring-true with many who’ve been scorned or rejected in a sexual dating relationship.

The distressing self-examination and revelation revealed to David painstakingly proves an age-old lesson about life: one careless action can forever change a person’s future.

This is a movie with a sobering but profound message that could make for an uncomfortable journey for the audience.

The not-so-good: Vanilla Sky is emotionally exhausting and hard to follow. It doesn’t have a “happily-ever-after” ending, which could be a factor in its box-office potential. It’s the kind of movie where you leave the theater and immediately talk with others about what you just saw, to make sure you understood it.

Although Cruise and Cruz definitely create screen chemistry together, their relationship on-screen is a reminder of the off-screen scandal of Cruise’s divorce.

Since this is not a “happy holiday” kind of movie, I doubt it will do well in a season where people typically don’t want to see heavy films. Aside from the strong language, there are a couple of sexual situations (one that includes a murder), and several adult issues that make this movie strictly for mature adults.

Offensive language: The F-word is used, as are a few religious profanities.

Sexual situations: Several scenes show characters partially covered with sheets, implying they just had sex or are about to. One scene graphically shows a couple making love, with upper nudity shown.

Violence: A car goes off a bridge and crashes into a wall. A man places a pillow over a woman’s face and holds it on her until she’s dead. A mild scuffle between two men in a bar.

Parental advisory: When Jerry Maguire came out, many kids and young teens saw it with their parents (or on video). This movie is definitely a different kind of story, with a well-deserved “R” rating. The film is too intense for most adults, much less younger Cruise fans.

Entertainment value: While I am a fan of Crowe’s directing and Cruise’s acting, this movie is not one I can easily recommend. It has some impressive acting and poignant moments, but it is an intense, confusing and frustrating movie to watch.