Life is but a dream
David Aames is a rich publishing heir, with more of an eye for women than for business. His life is like a dream. We open with the words "open your eyes", and we spend a couple hours of film time to make that happen. The ideas in the film are not exactly new - there's the recent Mulholland Drive, and the more pedestrian Total Recall, which is much closer in tone to what we see here.
It's hard to say what's wrong with Vanilla Sky. The script is well constructed, with a lot of detail to pick up on in a second or third viewing. The logic pretty much holds together, despite some very odd scenes. Part of the problem may be that it's hard to empathize with Tom Cruise's character. He's well off and more than a bit of a scoundrel. If things happen to him, well, he could have taken more of an interest in his own life. The characterization is solid, for sure, though we could have seen more interesting situations and decisions for him.
I'm more inclined to believe Vanilla Sky is too well structured, too exacting in what it's telling us to think. Where Mulholland Drive is evocative, Vanilla Sky seems to belabor the point. This is a movie about dreams, after all. Part of that quality is there, but it's too clever, setting up our eventual revelations, and not in the moment, which is what dreams are all about.
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