Although not the biggest fan of Tom Cruise, with a versatile cast lined up Vanilla Sky sounded like an interesting film to check out.
Vanilla Sky starts out as an interesting film because it shows a sort of surreal mind for its main character David Aames as he differentiates between the universe around him and the mysteries of his mind, unable to himself to open his eyes, look up to the sky and see what exactly is real. So from the beginning of the film, it suggests that it will be an interesting and surreal look at the human psyche.
Soon though, the plot structure of Vanilla Sky becomes convoluted and it collapses under Cameron Crowe's ambition. It is clear that he wants to make Vanilla Sky an innovative blend of genres which tells the complex story of David Aames as he goes in to a reality warp, but unfortunately it just collapses in on itself pretty fast.
Vanilla Sky is like a massive jigsaw puzzle of Tom Cruise, and Cameron Crowe adds different pieces to the puzzle as the story goes on, but although he somehow pieces a story together out of everything, it is harder for audiences too. The structure of the story in Vanilla Sky is very complicated which means that it is very hard to actually be able to understand what goes where in terms of chronology. I couldn't understand what was happening, why or when it was happening and also what the deal with the characters were. It all became confusing very fast, and eventually I just had to let go of the fact that I would never be able to understand the film and then sit back and attempt to appreciate it for its many other positive values. But it still bothered me because the story in Vanilla Sky was fascinating and could have been seriously entertaining, but the treatment that Cameron Crowe ended up giving to it was not sufficient enough to actually hold it up. He lost control of things somewhere along the way, and it is likely that viewers will have the same problem in attempting to understand it. Those who can piece it together will appreciate its virtues, and many of its elements are good. But as a whole, the manic energy and the excess of ambition in the film wore me down and the fact that it kept on going all over the place left me mesmerised.
The more positive elements of Vanilla Sky can be attributed to its visual style. The universe of the film is innovative and mysterious, as well as very interesting. It had a slight futuristic feel mixed with a contemporary feeling to it against the backdrop of a mysterious atmosphere which meant that it constantly had me curious about it. And it was captured with atmospheric cinematography and edited well.
But the thing that constantly kept the atmosphere of the film in tact and interesting was its soundtrack. I never really believed that the story was actually happening because of the music, and it had me suspended somewhere between reality and disbelief. It was an interesting experience, and even though it was a long and slowly paced one, the kind of feeling that I got from watching the film made it worth the viewing experience. I wouldn't necessarily say that Vanilla Sky was a good film, but it was worth the viewing because of its atmosphere. Its music keeps the mood of the film consistently lighthearted and mysterious, as if the entire film is some kind of dream. And that makes it successful in some of its ambitions and therefore Cameron Crowe deserves praise for achieving that. He creates an interesting feel for the movie, he just doesn't do enough to make the film consistently interesting in terms of its story or script.
But the aspect of the film that I did find myself consistently enjoying was the talents of the cast.
Like I said, I'm not such a big fan of Tom Cruise, and the critical consensus on Rotten Tomatoes dictated that his performance lacked depth and wasn't that compelling. Although it wasn't perfect, I thought it was good enough. He is a bit egotistical in the role, but unlike in many of his other films, it is no problem in Vanilla Sky. His character David Aames is confused and trapped within the barriers of his mind, unable to break free and realise what reality is. He creates a distressed character without going melodramatic, and he finds a balance between lighthearted and seriously emotional in the part. While other viewers may find that he leans in a single direction, I found his lead performance was good and that his complicated character was one that he was up to the challenge for, and therefore I enjoyed Tom Cruise's effort in Vanilla Sky.
Cameron Diaz's performance was also spectacular. Trapped within a strange universe, Cameron Diaz does everything that she can for the part and makes a seriously compelling and enjoyable effort within a short amount of time on screen. Without fear, Cameron Diaz projects a lot of fierce emotional strength into her part when she interacts with Tom Cruise which means that at her own command she is able to easily steal the screen. Cameron Diaz manages to deliver some admirable and charming dramatic moments in Vanilla Sky which make her a memorable and genial presence in the film.
Penelope Cruz also does a fine job. Although her performance is not flawless and her character is imperfect, her natural charm and charisma make her an entertaining presence in the film and her character is likable, so it is easy to see just how she becomes the product of David Aames' affections in the story. Penelope Cruz is a nice actress to have on board in Vanilla Sky.
And lastly, Kurty Russell gives a good small supporting performance as well during his brief screen time in Vanilla Sky.
But despite the talents of the cast, the atmosphere and the soundtrack of the film, Vanilla Sky is too convoluted to seriously qualify as great entertainment in my opinion.