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Cloud Atlas


Stars: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant, Susan Sarandon, Ben Whishaw, Jim Sturgess, Hugo Weaving, Doona Bae, Jim Broadbent, James D'Arcy, Keith David

Director: Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski

Ambition overreaches execution by quite a way in this fragmented adaptation of David Mitchell's absorbing novel, which naysayers had said was unfilmable - and seem to have been proved right: the book is far more enjoyable, and less of a drag (pun unintentional: several of the male half of the cast appear as women) than the movie. Most of its actors play several different roles, the more oddball of which prove quite beyond them. And the breaking up of the stories to bleed into one another underlines the links between them, which should more gradually become apparent.

However, if you have a morbid fascination with car crashes, this may appeal, as three talented filmmakers go for broke and, despite achieving some striking images throughout the film, crash and burn. Spotting the actors in their various guises - Grant as a multi-hued tattooed cannibal, for example - certainly provides passing amusement, if not enough to sustain us over three hours, as the stories move from the mid 19th century to the distant future. And some actors - Bae, Sturgess, Broadbent - do fare better than others.

Settings are occasionally mind-blowingly imaginative, something that the whole of this ill-conceived, but only fitfully entertaining film might have been in other hands.

David Quinlan

USA 2012. UK Distributor: Warner Brothers. Colour (unspecified).
172 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 3.

Review date: 21 Feb 2013