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Vanilla Sky
2001 - R - 130 Mins.
Director: Cameron Crowe
Producer: Tom Cruise, Paula Wagner
Written By: Cameron Crowe
Starring: Tom Cruise, Penelope Cruz, Kurt Russell, Cameron Diaz, Jason Lee, Noah Taylor, Tilda Swinton, Timothy Spall
Review by: Carl Langley
   

Open your eyes, this remake sucks. Better yet, keep them closed.
American adaptations of foreign films usually end up travestying the original; The Magnificent Seven was a remarkable ersatz of Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, but in this case, Cameron Crowe’s Vanilla Sky is an embarrassment to Alejandro Amenabar’s Abre los ojos (Open Your Eyes). How could Cameron Crowe be attached and lose control miserably? – Cruise Control. Tom Cruise, his star in Jerry Maguire, fell in love with the Spanish masterstroke and purchased the rights for a remake, allowing him to be the star vehicle and furthermore in the driver’s seat as producer.

Cruise plays David Aames, an egotistical womanizer who has just inherited his father’s magazine empire, living life to the fullest, yet with the sensuality of desolation. When his best friend (Jason Lee) shepherds an attractive woman (Penelope Cruz) to a party, David feels as if his void has been occupied. After one wonderful evening, David is in love but it comes to an abrupt halt when former jealous lover and sociopath (Cameron Diaz) lures him into the car and drives them off a bridge, killing herself and endowing him a gnarled face. All of this is narrated by Aames, sporting a mask to hide his ghastly scars, to a psychologist (Kurt Russell), interrogating him about a murder he potentially could have committed.

Vanilla Sky requires strenuous thinking, much like Mulholland Drive, but all the arduous drudgery is not worth the commission. In fact, there are dreams within dreams throughout the movie causing the protagonist to even wonder what is real and what is not. Everything looks great, including the beginning shot of Times Square as Cruise is frantically running through the bare streets with not one person in sight.

The stars are in top-notch form as well, especially Diaz who puts a new meaning to the word “insane”. The entire car crash scene is one to remember for Diaz and her resume. Undoubtedly Tom Cruise possesses a notably high screen presence, but even the best sometimes fail and he cannot salvage this disaster. Penelope Cruz relives the role she portrayed in Amenabar’s foreign masterpiece. She is effective, but even better in the original. The stars and the shots are great, but what is the point of remaking this film if you are not going to do it right. What a misfire.

If you can patiently get past the martyred dialogue, all the questions are answered in one deep-rooted explanation at the end of the film, but by then the lethargic film is colorless, inane, and sluggish. Crow stays true to the original twists, but drags them through to the end, whereas the original kept zipping along. My advice – something you will not hear recurrently – eschew Crowe’s version and indulge yourselves in Amenabar’s.

On an interesting side note: If you blink, you will miss Steven Spielberg chatting during the party scene in which Cruise meets Cruz for the first time.
 
Movie Guru Rating
Disappointing.  Had the right ingredients and should have been better. Disappointing.  Had the right ingredients and should have been better.
  2 out of 5 stars

 
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