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Vanilla Sky


Year: 2001 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (XWide) 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: The level of subtitling in this film is unknown to WSC 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  

As a rule, critics and film fans in general have looked upon Hollywood's predilection for the remaking of foreign-language hits with scorn. And, with soulless examples such as Assassin (the remake of Luc Besson's Nikita), who can blame them? The news that the Spanish psychological thriller, and massive domestic hit, Abres los Ojos was to be 're-imagined' by Cameron Crowe was greeted with a mixture of scorn and interest. How could the mainstream director of such audience-friendly fare as Jerry Maguire and the miraculous Almost Famous bring the dark, twisted world of the original to the blockbuster generation?

Firstly, he cast buddy and top box-office draw Tom Cruise as David Aimes, the rich, successful babe-magnet whose life (and face) is ripped apart following a near fatal car accident. This is far from a showy role for the usually prominent Cruise - he spends much of the film either with a freaky Halloween-style mask on, or else nastily disfigured. His character, a kind of non-apologetic Jerry Maguire, is instantly likeable (unlike his Spanish counterpart), and hence we are more comfortable in identifying with his plight. Supporting Cruise are two of the prettiest young actresses currently working in Hollywood: Cameron Diaz and Penelope Cruz. Diaz effortlessly pulls off the role of the psychotically jealous lover, while Cruz brings to the film a wonderful sympathy and melancholy that Abres los Ojos was unable to provide.

Secondly, Crowe has brought his own inimitable style to the proceedings. The story, of a soulless playboy who finds true love, has a hideous accident, and then tries to piece his life back together as things take a surreal turn for the worse, is the stuff of noir-thriller territory. However, although this element is certainly present (if not tantamount) in Vanilla Sky, there are enough secondary elements to both surprise the casual viewer and to impress upon the film-buff that this is not just a vapid remake, but an intelligent, extraordinary film which transcends its source material and expands (and, dare I say it, improves) upon the original.

To try and pin down Vanilla Sky would be an exercise in futility; it is a romance, a thriller, a horror and a murder mystery, and a whole lot more besides. To give away the quirks and twists of the plot would be a criminal act - this is a film to go and see with no pretensions and no expectations, least of all if you've seen the fantastic original. Just let it mess with your mind for a while, as well as dazzle your ears with a selection of brilliant tunes. You won't regret it, and it might even change the way you look at the world.

Greg Taylor

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Screenings of this film:

2001/2002 Summer Term (35mm)
2001/2002 Summer Term (35mm)
2001/2002 Summer Term (35mm)