Vanilla Sky
Open your eyes! Diaz and Cruise have a domestic squabble.
dir-scr Cameron Crowe
with Tom Cruise, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Kurt Russell, Jason Lee, Noah Taylor, Timothy Spall, Tilda Swinton, Johnny Galecki, Alicia Witt, Michael Shannon, Delaina Mitchell
release US 14.Dec.01; UK 25.Jan.02
01/US 2h15

3 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
LoveHateDreamsLifeWorkPlayFriendshipSex It's always a bit worrying when Hollywood remakes a favourite European film, especially one as fiercely astonishing as Alejandro Amenabar's Abre los Ojos (aka Open Your Eyes). And while this new version wasn't specifically necessary, at least Crowe does something original, using the premise and characters (including Cruz in the same role) to make startlingly different film, but with constant echoes of the original.

David Aames (Cruise) is heir to a publishing empire, the golden boy living the Manhattan high life with a casual girlfriend (Diaz), his loyal best buddy (Lee) and more money than God. When he meets the beguiling Sofia (Cruz), he starts rethinking his priorities. But a car crash changes everything, and he turns to a psychologist (Russell) to try to sort out the unravelling threads of his identity.

As the story gets darker and heavier, the film really grabs hold in a powerful way, as long as we can let ourselves be carried along until the complex conclusion. Characters flit in and out of the story, filling in gaps and adding texture while Cruise holds things together with an edgy central performance that begins to undermine his superstar image (but not quite). It's all very introspective and thought-provoking, and in the end it leaves us thoroughly shaken, contemplating issues of identity and ambition. Intriguing stuff. Strangely, the film seems bloated and under-edited. It's like we're watching Crowe's first rough cut; it's badly in need of a judicious edit, cutting about a half hour of repetitive, slightly preachy material to leave things more lean and thoughtful. Which brings us back to Abre los Ojos....
adult themes and situations, language, violence cert 15 10.Jan.02

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... "Another movie with a lot of hype, but one I wanted to see because I enjoy reading mysteries and watching them, and I like trying to guess the ending. This one is billed as a thriller - and it is. Tom Cruise plays a man who has everything - the controlling stock in three magazines, good looks, lots of money, women fall all over him - yet he never has fallen in love, or gotten serious or even had one serious long-term relationship. Then he meets THE ONE - a woman who truly fascinates him, and he spends an entire night with her just talking ... he is truly happy. But you know it won't last, and it doesn't. This was kind of a cool movie, and I don't want to say too much and give away the end - but I did enjoy watching it, and you gotta see the end. Cameron Diaz and Penelope Cruz were awesome in their parts - especially Diaz as his stalker/girlfriend wannabe. Go see this movie and see if you can guess how it will end!" --Laurie T, Minneapolis 17.Dec.01 LoveHateDreamsLifeWorkPlayFriendshipSex

"I've seen Vanilla Sky twice and really enjoyed it. I'd previously seen Open Your Eyes at least four times and so I was expecting to detest Vanilla Sky, but Crowe maintained the strongest assets of Open Your Eyes -- the script and Penelope Cruz -- so all is not lost. In fact, I think I like it as much as Open Your Eyes now, the more I think about it. It's kind of like a cover song where you're faithful to the original and would never say that the cover is better than the original but at the same time there's something refreshing about it that makes you like it equally...." --Mike McCarthy, Boston 9.Jan.02 cruz and cruise

"I was hoping that with such a cast the production would be one of exceptional calibre. I more or less enjoyed it, until I realised it was one of those movies that you watch and grow to hate gradually afterwards as you think about it a bit, as everything sinks and settles into your mind. The storyline is one that I found very good, very unusual in a way, but also one that was completely spoilt by Cruise. Not being a fan of Cruise at all, I found once again what I think is an overrated actor, failing to perform or make us forget the actor underneath the character. Surprisingly enough, emphasis was put on two young women literally dying from love for Cruise, putting him right in the centre for reasons that are too much recurrent in films his films: he's the so passe successful, handsome, has-it-all yuppy! Then once disfigured, spending way too much time in front of the mirror. It seemed to me that, from a storyline which appealed to me as being one of a quest for getting one's life back and so on, maybe a punitive plight for the purification of an over-confident character. Cruise managed to give me the one and only feeling that this film was solely about his own vanity, about the megalomania of an actor that cannot get over his own self. These few lines are certainly very harsh and contestable, but the bottom line what Vanilla Sky represents for me is unfortunately that too often only names make a film." --Bertrand Abadie, London 30.Jan.02

2002 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall