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June 2002                                                       SITE MAP   SEARCH
Vanilla Sky
cast: Tom Cruise, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Jason Lee, and Kurt Russell

director: Cameron Crowe

145 minutes (R) 2001
Paramount NTSC video rental

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by Robin Landry
While Vanilla Sky is a brave departure for Cameron Crowe, the film is not, unfortunately, a departure for Tom Cruise. After the confusing and much too deep Eyes Wide Shut, Cruise should have seen this one coming. Making science fiction films seems easy. Growing up with The Twilight Zone, maybe Crowe thought he had the genre down. Take reality for a spin, throw in a dream sequence, and you have a satisfying story that everyone loves. Only problem with Vanilla Sky is that you cannot tell where the reality left town and fantasy stepped in to take its place.
   David Aames (Cruise) already lived a fantasy life therefore, when we were introduced to his dream-life via the car accident, it seemed like reality all over again. There aren't enough clues within the dream sequence to let us guess what was really going on. By the time we figure it out at the end of the movie, there's no satisfying looking back to see how the clues lined up and to berate ourselves for missing them.
   The acting in Vanilla Sky is top notch. As a playboy magazine editor, Cruise is totally believable. The only problem I had with his character is that I couldn't find that fatal flaw that would make me love him. Sofia (Cruz) looks the part of half angel of redemption to Cruise's character, and half sultry temptress - sexy enough to keep David grounded in reality. But for my money, Julie Gianni (Cameron Diaz) steals the show. Playing the part of a woman who settles for far less than she wants or deserves from a man, we can tell from the moment we are introduced to Julie in bed with David, that this is a woman on the edge. The clue to her breaking point is when we hear Julie tell David that she missed an audition. This lets us know that Julie is giving up everything for David, so when she waits outside Sofia's apartment for David to come out in the morning, the look on Julie's face is heartbreakingly tragic. If David had known anything at all about women, he never would have gotten into Julie's car that day and he could have saved himself a whole lot of trouble. Too bad he never took the time to care about anyone but himself.
   Brian Shelby (Jason Lee), David's best friend, is a writer who never gets the girl. David callously comments that this makes Brian a better writer and since Brian's book isn't finished yet, David is doing him a favour by taking away his one chance at the right girl. With friends like David, Brian should become quite a successful writer.
   McCabe (Kurt Russell) is a psychiatrist trying to help David get the bottom of a murder he's supposedly committed. McCabe's caring is obvious yet David plays with him just as he plays with everyone in his life. To David, being rich means you use people without regard to anything but your own needs.
   Vanilla Sky certainly had its good points, but it takes too long to get to most of them and, by the time you have, you can't remember why you ever cared. Disjointed would sum up this movie, which is shame because it could have been a mind-expanding experience just as The Sixth Sense was for us a few years ago. Cruise fans won't enjoy it because the movie is too far removed from what his fans go to his movies to see. Science fiction fans won't go because it's not that good as far as the genre is concerned. That doesn't leave many left to see it. Vanilla Sky is a movie looking to fit in somewhere and it never finds that place. Crowe needs to keep experimenting but he needs to find a better script doctor to tighten up his writing.
   One thing I never figured out was the name of the film and what, if anything, it had to do with the story. Do dreams come with a vanilla sky? Or does the vanilla stand for the lack of colour of David's personality?

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