You know that movie that nobody knows you like, nobody would guess you like and you don’t even normally admit to liking? This is that movie for me. Which is surprising since the first time I saw it, I rented it specifically to see if it could possibly be as bad as people said. Apparently, the problem has more to do with “most people” and less to do with the movie.
David Aames (Tom Cruise) is the stereotypical spoiled rich kid. His dad made a fortune and left it to him and he’s never had to work for anything in his life. Predictably, most of his relationships are just as shallow as he is. As soon as he thinks he’s found “the one” for him, though, it’s all torn away in an auto accident that leaves him ruined both physically and emotionally for the rest of his life…maybe.
“Vanilla Sky” is a surrealistic look at reality, perception and the power of our own minds. As David spirals into madness, he begins to question everything and everyone in the world around him – forcing the viewer to do the same. This is a movie you need to watch, not just view. It’s a movie you need to pay attention to and think about, which is probably why so many people dislike it. Tom Cruise turns in one of his better performances and Jason Lee is surprisingly good as playing his “straight man” best friend. The visuals are great, and become better once you realize the story they are telling behind the scenes.
That’s not to say it doesn’t have problems. Penelope Cruz continues to be the most successful horrible actress I can think of. The ending is a bit spoon-fed as well (although, judging by many reviews of the film, dumbing it down for the audience may have been a good idea) and is handled a bit clumsily, particularly in the awkward attempts of David’s psychiatrist (Kurt Russell) to veer him toward one reality while denying the other. The pacing is shoddy as well, dragging in certain trivial spots while racing through other important ones.
Not everybody is going to understand this movie. Fewer still will like it. But if you’re willing to invest your time in actually watching a movie instead of using it for background noise, this one just might surprise you.