I’m a sucker for any kind of mystery or psychological thriller. For me, they’re so thrilling and fun to watch unfold, and of course the whole time you’re wondering what exactly is going on and guessing what the answer might be. I wanted to see this film not only because that’s the genre it fits in, but also because of it’s killer cast. A psychological mystery/thriller starring Tom Cruise, Penelope Cruz, and Cameron Diaz sounds like a real winner and for the most part, it turns out to be one. While Vanilla Sky does have it’s flaws, it is successful in giving the audience a very twisty ride.
The story is told in a very odd way. It starts out pretty normal, but then it begins cutting away to the future and you realize that the beginning events are told in flashback. While it’s all very interesting and it all comes together in the end, I will admit that towards the middle I was starting to wonder where the hell this thing was going. That’s really the only thing I struggled with when watching this. But thankfully, after it starts to slow down and has you wondering if it’s lost it’s footing, it starts to pick back up quickly.
The cast helps this film tremendously, they all bring their A game. Tom Cruise, who’s of course a bona fide movie star, exhibits further proof here as to why he’s been able to ascend to such a high status in Hollywood. He is truly is a fantastic actor and he is a delight to follow as the lead. Penelope Cruz portrays her role in a such a loving light that it’s hard not to like her, and she and Cruise have pretty good chemistry in their scenes together. Cameron Diaz gives one of her best performances as Julie Gianni. She has one scene in particular with Cruise where she delivers a monologue and it ends up being one of the most impactful scenes in the film.
This is a very different type of role for Diaz, who usually plays a very bubbly upbeat character. It was great to see that she can handle a more menacing role. I also liked Kurt Russel here, although his role is rather minor, he still does a good job with what he has. The actual mystery aspect of the plot is interesting to see unfold, even if it does feel kind of bonkers in the middle of it all. The end result that we are left with isn’t something I saw coming, even though there are little pieces along the way that do make sense once it’s all revealed. I actually felt a little dumb by the end for not figuring that the pieces I noticed would lead to something like what it ends up being. Without giving anything away, I will say that there is a very sentimental feel to the plot here. At it’s heart, it’s really about a wealthy powerful man longing for his true love, and I found the way in which the film depicted that very sweet.
The imagery used is effective and ends up being crucial to the plot so keep your eye out as the film goes along. While some of the visuals appear a bit dated and some of it is clearly CGI, it’s still for the most part effective. I loved the way the film wraps up. The ending ties everything together nicely and gives you a sense of closure to the story, especially when it comes to Cruise and Cruz. The major plot point ends up being their relationship, and even more than that, Cruise’s infatuation and image of her. It’s true that their connection isn’t as strong as it could be, but its effective.
So in the end, Vanilla Sky certainly isn’t the best of it’s genre and there are better films I’d recommend before this one, but it’s still pretty effective in what it’s trying to do.