Vanilla Sky

"OK"

Vanilla Sky Review


Imagine if someone remade "The Others," this year's most incredibly chilling haunted-house movie starring Nicole Kidman, but rewrote it to include Casper the Friendly Ghost. That should give you a pretty good idea what Cameron Crowe has done with "Vanilla Sky."

In 1997, Alejandro Amenabar -- writer and director of "The Others" -- created a stunning psychological thriller called "Open Your Eyes." It was about a rich, young lothario whose mind becomes a dangerous jumble of dreams, fantasies and delusions when he is horribly disfigured in a car crash the day after getting his first taste of real love.

Filled with ingenious twists and powerful emotions, it was a stirring brain-bender that could give you the tingles at any given moment.

Tom Cruise and Cameron Crowe ("Almost Famous," "Jerry Maguire") fell in love with "Open Your Eyes," bought the remake rights, borrowed the leading lady (Penelope Cruz stars in both films) and proceeded to turn it into a fanciful feel-good flick.

"Vanilla Sky" doesn't give you the tingles; it just tickles a little.

Cruise plays David Aames, a frivolous 33-year-old playboy who inherited a publishing empire from his father and has had only casual girlfriends his whole life. One of them is Julie (Cameron Diaz), an unstable knockout who has become obsessed with David after they spent a couple nights together.

Then at his 34th birthday party David meets sultry, sweet-hearted Sofia (Cruz) and becomes instantly smitten -- even though she arrived on the arm of his romantically frustrated best friend (Jason Lee). A charmingly romantic night of flirting is spent at Sofia's apartment, then when David leaves in the morning, he finds Julie waiting for him. He gets in her car, trying to play it cool, and she drives them off a bridge at 80 mph.

Crowe lingers silently on the wreckage in what is the last truly goose-pimply moment in the movie, before defusing most of the story's emotional import and spiraling shocks (including what should be a startling murder scene) with his particular brand of well-written but innocuous humor and with several wildly contrary, weightless pop tunes on the soundtrack.

Narrating from his prison cell as he's being psychoanalyzed for his murder trial (we know he's in jail but we don't know who's dead yet), David wears a rubbery prosthetic face mask to hide his mangled face as he recalls the events after the accident to his court-appointed shrink (Kurt Russell).

He tells of his misery at seeing Sofia distance herself from him, more because of the psychological toll the accident had taken on his personality than because of his disquieting visage. But then the same plastic surgeons that told him his was a lost case suddenly come back with a miraculous new reconstructive surgery proposal. Soon David got his life and Sofia back.

Or did he?

David's mind begins to unravel and soon he's seeing his scars in the mirror again, and Julie -- not Sofia -- in his bed. None of this tale sits well with the shrink, who insists that Julie is dead and David's face is fine, if he would just remove the mask and look for himself.

This is about the point in "Open Your Eyes" where Amenabar really pulls the rug out from under you. But in "Vanilla Sky," both the story and the clues to the movie's twists are over-simplified. Meanwhile, the flashy production design (holograms, vintage Ferraris, desks that turn into view screens) hints that maybe Crowe had too much money to play with and it muted his creativity.

This sometimes shot-for-shot "cover version," as Crowe has called it, does feature a talented cast that is clearly dedicated to the project heart and soul. Penelope Cruz gives her first really good English language performance (although she's better in the Spanish version). "Sky" also boasts Crowe's always-catchy dialogue ("She looks like the saddest girl to ever hold a martini.") and does flesh out the characters' lives in a way "Open Your Eyes" did not.

But the director's habitually blithe, soft-serve cinematic style -- which lent an innocent charm to sex, drugs and rock'n'roll in "Almost Famous" -- holds this movie back with its lack of gripping tension, emotional depth and psychological resonance.

For someone who hasn't been exposed to the brilliance of "Open Your Eyes," this picture may not be a disappointment -- even though its many surprises are so leisurely and so telegraphed that they almost fail to startle at all. But to those people I say, think of what "The Others" might have been like had Cameron Crowe been behind the camera, then stay home and rent "Open Your Eyes."



Vanilla Sky

Facts and Figures

Genre: Thriller

Run time: 136 mins

In Theaters: Friday 14th December 2001

Box Office USA: $100.5M

Box Office Worldwide: $203.4M

Budget: $75M

Distributed by: Paramount Pictures

Production compaines: Paramount Pictures, Cruise-Wagner Productions, Vinyl Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 41%
Fresh: 67 Rotten: 97

IMDB: 6.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as David Aames, as Sofia Serrano, as Julie, as Dr. Curtis McCabe, as Brian, as Edmund Ventura, as Thomas Tipp, as Rebecca Dearborn, Armand Schultz as Dr. Pomeranz, as Libby, as Aaron, as Emma, as Colleen, as Peter Brown

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Hampstead Movie Review

Hampstead Movie Review

Deliberately appealing to older audiences, this undemanding comedy-drama comes with a hint of social relevance...

The Book of Henry Movie Review

The Book of Henry Movie Review

Apparently, this offbeat script had been making the rounds in Hollywood for some 20 years...

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

With this fifth Transformers movie, it seems clear that Michael Bay is still trying to...

Churchill Movie Review

Churchill Movie Review

This drama about the iconic British prime minister tells a darkly personal story set over...

Gifted Movie Review

Gifted Movie Review

This is one of those films that dances right up to the edge of soapy...

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Notorious British filmmaker Nick Broomfield teams up with Austrian music documentary producer Rudi Dolezal to...

The Mummy Movie Review

The Mummy Movie Review

To launch their new Dark Universe franchise, Universal has taken an approach that mixes murky...

Advertisement
My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

Daphne du Maurier's 1951 mystery-romance novel has been adapted for theatre, radio, TV and film,...

Wilson Movie Review

Wilson Movie Review

It's never helpful when a comedy becomes a bit too smug about its own quirkiness....

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

A fictionalised story from the life of Wolfgang Mozart, this lavishly produced period drama is...

The Hippopotamus Movie Review

The Hippopotamus Movie Review

This British satirical comedy may be a bit of a mess, but since it's based...

Detour Movie Review

Detour Movie Review

This may look like a rather typical American indie thriller, but British filmmaker Christopher Smith...

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Boldly optimistic, this action-packed adventure breathes fresh life into the DC universe with a welcome...

Baywatch Movie Review

Baywatch Movie Review

Clearly, it's a risky proposition adapting a cheesy vintage TV series for the big screen:...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.