Over the course of almost 3 hours, Cloud Atlas tells 6 stories of strangely interconnected lives.
Set in 1849, 1936, 1973, 2012, 2144, and 2321 (a ship traversing the Pacific Ocean, a house in a Scottish city, around a nuclear power plant in San Francisco, contemporary England and Scotland, a futuristic place called New Seoul, and Hawaii after the collapse) the stories connect at least 7 souls (each played by one actor, living as male or female, of a variety of races) as they move through time.
At the end, I felt that I had watched such a remarkable, complex achievement that I almost wanted to go straight back in again to see how all the pieces of the stories fitted together.
Be warned, however, the first half hour or so was frustratingly choppy and difficult to follow.
Sit through it and the stories will get much more engaging, especially as links between the 6 stories appear .
Pay attention to a strange birthmark and the different characters the same actors play in each different time.
One other thing to note is that the Wachowski siblings, of The Matrix fame, were heavily involved in the development of the film, so expect some mind bending philosophical themes.
See this film at a cinema for the gloriously realised vision of a future New Seoul or to try to keep track of the different actors under their many layers of make-up and prosthetics.
Otherwise, buy a copy of the DVD and watch it on a good video monitor, and watch it again to catch the clues.
Do not see this film if you want an easy to watch, just go along for the ride experience – the flow is too complicated for that.
Reviewed by Ken M