201 of 216 people found the following review helpful
on March 26, 2005
As you can see from the customer reviews bouncing between loving and hating this movie, it is not for everyone.
The first time I saw this movie in the theater I was unable to move when it was over. I was utterly stunned. I can count on one hand the times this has happened to me over a lifetime of movie viewing.
Tom Cruise plays David Aames, a rich young man who has inherited a publishing empire from his late father. Cameron Diaz is the girlfriend he really doesn't care about, and Jason Lee plays his best (and perhaps only) friend. Aames is utterly disconnected from his own life, and seems to care little about anything. One night his friend (Lee) brings an intriguing dancer (Penelope Cruz) to his birthday party. Cruise takes up with Cruz, but then experiences a waking nightmare that destroys his life. I can't reveal more of the plot without giving it away, and I suggest you NOT read any more reviews of this film and just see it--otherwise you'll deprive yourself of one incredible movie ride.
This movie is visually spectacular. There are scenes that set off the dive klaxon deep within my brain but I couldn't figure out why until much later in the film when the plot is revealed. What is this film? Science fiction? Yes, but... A psychological thriller? Yes, but... A love story? Yes, ultimately.
It's better not to categorize Vanilla Sky, and just enjoy (or not enjoy) it. I think this movie either works on you, or it doesn't. And this is probably the most polarizing movie I have ever seen. You'll either love it or hate it.
Jason Lee and Cameron Diaz give the performances of their careers. I would have said the same of Cruise, but then he uncorked Collateral. Kurt Russell has a relatively small part as Cruise's psychologist, but he nails it perfectly.
Vanilla Sky is based on Spanish filmmaker Alejandro Amenábar's Abre Los Ojos (Open Your Eyes). I liked Vanilla Sky a lot more than Abre Los Ojos, unlike most American remakes of foreign films, because it contains additional scenes and more spectacular visuals. However, an English-only speaker like me can't really make a fair comparision because there are so many subtitles to watch in Abre Los Ojos it makes it hard to watch the actors. Penelope Cruz plays the same role in both films.
The real value of this film is that it makes you think about what (and more importantly, who) is at the core of your own life, and how will you feel about how you have lived when the clock runs out?
Vanilla Sky is a rare movie--unique in plot, and made with passion and care. I can't guarantee you'll like it, but there is no other movie more worth taking a chance on.
40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on February 27, 2005
"We're now on pause."
'Vanilla Sky' is one of my favorite movies of all time, for that reason I have discussed it with a number of people. It is true that you will either cherish, despise, or totally not get this film.
The film is complex both in content and presentation, thus many simply won't get it.
People dislike 'Vanilla Sky' because, the original, 'Abre los Ojos,' is more artsy and less glamorous...and it is for that reason, I gather, that many people prefer the original film and strongly denounce 'Vanilla Sky.' 'Vanilla Sky' is, in my opinion, more graceful and not quite as raw as Amenabar's original. Crowe made a great story and message digestible for American's, but in the process brought forth such a jarring and real message about so many aspects of life that I think people either don't want to or can't wrap their heads around it.
This is no bastardization. It is a cultural re-doing of a solid film; with excellent performances and great work by so many others behind the scenes, that ultimately comes off better than the original. I love this movie because it is a truthful depiction of a man who torments himself...who chooses to bring crap on to himself...and fate cuts him no slack because he has been blessed in many earthly ways, very realistic and unlike your typical Hollywood junk (but of course it is not originally conceived in Hollywood). So, he throws his blessings away on many an occasion by making foolishly impulsive decisions and generally refusing to take charge of his life. On other occasions the viewer cringes as he unfruitfully grasps for what he tossed out before.
The blunt realization is that all the little moments in life matter so very-very much. That is life and 'Vanilla Sky' is a great allegory for some of the most important lessons: the sweet is never as sweet without the sour (hard work); there are no short cuts, no quick fixes; money can not repair the most important problems we are capable of bringing upon ourselves; and particularly if you are even slightly self-aware you must eventually chose to either: wake up (open your eyes) take control of your destiny and live a real life; or you will be engaging in a grand delusion, a dream. "Consequences...It's the little things...The little things...there's nothing bigger. Is there?"
Alas, all is not lost, every passing minute is another chance to turn it all around.
35 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on June 22, 2002
What's most surprising about this film - other than that Cameron Diaz can be quite convincing in a dramatic role - is the way it has been marketed. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that what I had thought, from the trailers, was just going to be another romantic-thriller with an A-list cast, was actually a far more complex and compelling sci-fi story. From the tone of most reviews, however, it clearly doesn't pay to mislead your public. What is it with audiences these days? Don't they like surprises? You'd think that the deluge of predictable excrement that flows out of Hollywood's studios every year would have most viewers excited to find a film which doesn't pander to their expectations. Clearly not. I hope it doesn't discourage Crowe and others like him from pursuing projects like this one. Hollywood typically butchers every European film it tries to "repackage" into a spoon-fed format for American audiences. `Vanilla Sky' is a notable exception, and well worth seeing.
52 of 65 people found the following review helpful
on June 5, 2004
hmm...I wonder what makes all these people say that Vanilla Sky was a horrible movie? Perhaps it's the fact that they did not or could not understand the film. I own Vanilla Sky and Abre Los Ojos (Open Your Eyes) and i must say that Vanilla Sky lived up to, and went beyond all expectations. If you've seen Abre, then I would highly recommend seeing Vanilla Sky. The acting in Abre was great, but the cinematography of Vanilla was even better. Intriguing film that will have you scratching your head until the very end. A definite MUST SEE!
27 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on September 13, 2004
This movie is one of the most brilliant movie's ever made. When I first viewed this movie I was in Gr 11 highschool and going down the wrong path in life. This movie hammered in the moral of the story harder than any story I have ever heard. It colourfully illustrates the fact that people make choices in life that have consequences. In this case, mr cruise gets in the car with cameron's character. This choice caused him great consequences. I really related to this movie and it hit me so hard that I cried myself to sleep that night after watching it. But it was so great, it felt as though I had an epiphony. Cheesy as that may sound, its like a door in my mind had just been blown open and I knew exactly how I wanted to live my life. How I treated people, the choices I would make...it all made sense. And for that, this is my favorite movie of all time. It saved me.
17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Based upon a foreign film that translates into English as OPEN YOUR EYES (ABRE LOS OJOS), VANILLA SKY gets its title from a Claude Monet painting, "Seine at Argenteuil" that the film's protagonist, David Aames (Tom Cruise) has upon a wall. The painting is sometimes mistakenly referred to as "Vanilla Sky" because of the color that Monet used for the sky in the painting. The misnomer of the painting's title is a key in understanding and appreciating the film because early on it becomes clear that this is a movie that likes to play with one's mind and the things that take place aren't necessarily real.
VANILLA SKY revolves around the character of David Aames. David is the son and heir of a international media tycoon. Most everyone close to him, including his best friend Brain Shelby (Jason Lee) see David as a spoiled brat who has no appreciation whatsoever for all the gifts that have been given to him since birth. He takes advantage of almost everyone he meets and lives in a fantasy world of wine, women, and song. At the start of the film David is involved in a serious relationship with a beautiful blonde named Julie Gianni (Cameron Diaz). They have been dating for sometime and are romantically linked, but David doesn't feel their relationship is as serious as Julie does. Whereas Julie is waiting for David to commit and propose, David sees her as simply being a "friend with benefits."
At his birthday party, David meets a woman that he finds so captivating and fascinating that he falls immediately in love with her. The woman, Sophia Serrano (Penelope Cruz) is the opposite of everything that he found attractive in Julie. David ends up walking her back to her place and spends the night talking with her. To him, Sophia is the woman of his dreams. She is the woman he would choose to marry. Unfortunately for David, Julie doesn't take things very well. She reminds him of some of the unavoidable truths about their relationship. Julie and David are involved in a car crash and when he opens his eyes, he is living in a different world.
His face has been reconstructed and at first things seem normal. But then David starts having nightmares. Soon the nightmares of his dreams seem to mix with his day to day life. He finds himself unable to distinguish the difference. Sophia is Julie and Julie is Sophia. The world is too confusing and David longs to sleep so that he can return to his dreams. Pleasant, pleasant dreams filled with the Sophia he met at the party and skies colored in vanilla.
I really don't like Tom Cruise much. He does have talent, but his large ego and cocky attitude take away from every picture I've ever seen him act in. Therefore, I was reluctant to see VANILLA SKY. I wish I would have watched the movie long ago.
The movie is a strange romantic drama sci-fi picture that tackles some huge issues. How do we live our lives? Would you rather live your life in a comfortable existence filled with superficial happiness or would you rather live an exciting, though often painful life filled with wonder and awe, truth and beauty, but only occasional moments of happiness? This is a decision that each one of us is actually presented with daily. We might not always recognize it as such, but it is and the way that choice is presented in the film makes VANILLA SKY such a powerful and engaging piece of cinema.
Cruise's ego works well for most of the film, though it denies the audience from completely identifying and empathizing with the plight of David Aames. Cruise is a great jerk, but not a very good reformed man. However, his gift at playing spoiled id-driven men sucks the audience into the action of VANILLA SKY from the beginning and even though one is never convinced of David's reformation, Cruise's performance/presence keeps the audience engaged throughout the film. Penelope Cruz reminds me of a Spanish Audrey Hepburn and though she isn't in the movie a great deal, she shines in the moments that she is. Cameron Diaz is a beauty and movie star, but overcomes her celebrity. She does a wonderful job of portraying Julie, an everywoman character that many women who have been stepped upon by men can relate to. Julie isn't on screen very long either, but when she is she raises some important questions about love, relationships, and sex in American society. Another important actor in the film is Jason Lee. Lee portrays David's best friend Brian, who is busy writing a novel. Brian is the catalyst for many of the film's deeper thought-provoking moments. It is also Brian who just might hold the key to the real meaning of the film. Like Cruise, sometimes having Lee in a picture is a turnoff, however in VANILLA SKY he is perfectly cast.
VANILLA SKY isn't the easiest film to understand. It isn't necessarily the most romantic film and though it's an intelligent movie, it asks more questions than it answers. It also has an open ending, so people who have to have a movie end all tidy will have problems with the film's ending. Nevertheless, the film is a beautiful piece of cinema that engages and entertains. A person cannot watch it without and not have something to think about later. That's something only really good movies can do.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on November 5, 2005
..This is a great movie for repeat viewings. It is a layered complex story that is as enjoyable watching with the Director's commentary as it is just enjoying the movie.
..The characters are beautiful ,the script is real and intelligent in terms of dialogue , and the message is life and love....
David Ames is a narcissistic man with all of life at his doorstep. He has the life we all want and then is turned upside down. The story itself is a blend of sci-fi and fantasy but the ultimate message in the end is one of appreciating all the little things and the joy of being in love with life and finding that someone who gets who you are.
The film is complex and bears repated viewings just to see all the "clues" that show you where it is going. It is a lovingly crafted movie that I would love to see a Director's cut of someday.
The soundtrack provides a moving score and is deftly synchronized with the tone of the movie. I just wihs the CD had all the music from the movie on it. I eneded up searching for some of the music here on this website. I recommend the DVD and the CD whole heartedly.
It is a great date movie to watch with somebdoy special in your life and the have a chance to discuss it.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on September 16, 2004
This is one of my absolute favorite movies of all time. I find it so upsetting that this movie was so underrated. In my opinion, Tom Cruise, Penelope Cruz, and Cameron Diaz all deserved nominations for this incredible film. Only in Garden State have I seen such an enchanting female lead and Tom Cruise gives his finest performance aside from Magnolia. Something I can not understand is why so many people found this movie confusing. I am fourteen and have watched the movie ten or more times, but I was eleven when I first saw this film and I still understood it. I can't get why people are afraid to be captivated by a movie enough to be immersed into the film. Another reason this is one of my favorite films is because of the incredibly unpredictable ending. What an incredible movie. I highly reccomend this movie to all my friends.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on June 12, 2002
This movie is so good I was glued to my seat watching intently trying to figure it all out before it told me at the very end. And while I was close to figuring out the actually story, I was slightly off, but that's ok because the actually story line was great.
This is a movie about a young man (Tom Cruise) born wealthy who doesn't have a care in the world. He's basically a playboy and uses women as he deems fit. Cameron Diaz plays one of the women who falls in love with Cruise and when she see's that Cruise is falling for Penelope Cruz she goes a bit nuts. I don't want to tell you any more because I don't want to let anything out of the bag but the rest of the movie up untill the very end will leave you very confused and trying unsuccessfully to figure out what's going on. This is what most people hate about this movie, its confusing nature, but I thought it was one of its best features. It kept me into the movie, it kept me glued to the screen trying to predict what is going on. Don't worry if you can't figure it out though, it will tell all at the very end and will leave you saying to yourself, "ahhhhh, so that's what was happening, that was really cool".
For those that enjoy a movie that will make you think, that gives great acting and a super cool story then check this out. I loved it and think that it has definately entered my top 20 movies of all time.
16 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on June 2, 2002
This is a great movie. I don't see how people could not like this movie and all of the questions it leads you to ponder about the nature of reality and life and death and love and treating people with respect instead of this using them for your own ends. And Cameron Crowe brings just enough spaciness to the film to make you feel like the Tom Cruise character and feel like you're lost in his dream life that's slowly starting to turn into a nightmare. It is a great movie that will entertain you and make you think.
I've seen this and the original, and as good as the original is I have to say that this is a superior movie as far as my tastes go. The original is more of a thriller in tone despite just about the same plot and dialogue, while Vanilla Sky wants to move beyond the original's stab at philosopy and really make you think about the nature of reality. And to top it off is Crowe's ususal brilliant use of music throughout the film that really helps to nail scenes and give them much more of an impact.