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Published: 2005-05-03 - 00:56:00
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Vanilla Sky Review

By Joe Lozito

About Face

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Writer-Director Cameron Crowe, the king of straightforward romantic comedies with lots of heart and well-used soundtracks ("Singles", "Say Anything", "Almost Famous") makes his first misstep by undertaking a remake of Alejandro Amenàbar's 1997 film "Abre Los Ojos" ("Open Your Eyes"). Mr. Crowe is noticeably uncomfortable working in this territory and what results is a confused, repetitive tale of vanity. The film follows uber-yuppie David Aames (could anyone but Tom Cruise play this role?) after spurned would-be girlfriend Cameron Diaz drives them into a disfiguring car accident and a nightmare of plot twists and turns.

Mr. Cruise, alternating between his matinee idol looks and disturbing facial make-up, could play this role with his eyes closed. This time around he attempts to solve one of those movie puzzles that seems to be more and more common since the success of "The Sixth Sense". Unlike that superior film, "Vanilla Sky" seems to play randomly with what is real and what is not until it builds to a cop-out conclusion which works only because it gives the script license to do whatever it wants. The explanation is so outlandish that I kept thinking there would be another twist that would abolish it. Alas, no.

Ms. Diaz is given some competition in Penélope Cruz, reprising her role from the original. Ms. Cruz still has yet to prove herself as an actress in an English-speaking role and "Sky" does not give her that chance. In a role which specifically requires her to be some kind of ideal woman, she lays back on her smile and ample charm to pull it off. The fault is not solely hers, since the script by Mr. Crowe keeps mistaking one-liners for wit.

The disturbing message permeating the film seems to be: without good looks, life isn't worth living. I'm sure that's not what Mr. Crowe intended, but it is all too easy to read. Everyone even remotely involved in the film is capable of much better things, and despite their best efforts, "Sky" falls flat.

What did you think?

Movie title Vanilla Sky
Release year 2001
MPAA Rating R
Our rating
Summary Director Cameron Crowe and Tom Cruise clumsily experiment in 'Twilight Zone' territory in this remake of 1997's 'Abre Los Ojos.' Mr. Cruise gives it his all but that's not enough to save this thriller from its forced, ridiculous conclusion.
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