Back to Reviews

= in cinema  = on DVD  = on videotape  = on TV  = book


Vanilla Sky

Penelope Cruz, Tom Cruise
Penélope Cruz and Tom Cruise
-- dream lovers?

Vanilla Sky (2001) starstarstar

Reviewed 2001-06-08: Row row row your boat gently down the stream, merrily merrily merrily merrily, life is but a dream. Davis Aames (Tom Cruise) has a dream life: he's inherited a publishing firm from parents Second Lookwho died suddenly in a car crash; he has a gorgeous "fuck buddy" in Julie Gianni (gorgeous Cameron Diaz), and his best friend, Brian (Jason Lee) brings what could be the love of his life to a birthday party, Sofia Serrano (Penélope Cruz). David spends a pleasure-delayed night with Sofia and might be in love.

As he leaves Sofia's place, Julie is outside and persuades him to ride with her. She is not as happy with their relationship as he is: "When you sleep with someone, your body make a promise whether you do or not," she says. They fly off a bridge, leaving Julie dead and David disfigured. At that point, you have to ask yourself about the rest of the movie: What happened? What was real and what was just a dream? As Sophia said of life, "Every passing minute is another chance to turn it all around." At what point was David's life "spliced"; when did it all turn around?

Vanilla Sky is based on the Amenábar film Abre los Ojos, in which Penélope Cruz also starred. I had resisted seeing her before, but she is a fascinating screen presence, very likeable. Critics say Vanilla Sky is reminiscent of Memento and Mulholland Dr. But I wasn't reminded so much of those films as I was of a 1993 episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation called "Frame of Mind." In that episode, Cmdr. Ryker is rehearsing a play as a man in an insane asylum, but has flashes of actually being a man in an insane asylum. In Vanilla Sky the viewer similarly asks, what is real? Why is David wearing a prosthetic mask and talking to a psychologist in prison? He is accused of a murder, but who died? Who is Ellie? Why do we keep seeing on TV this "Benny," a dog who survived for months frozen in ice? In Vanilla Sky there are clues, but nothing makes sense until the end. Actually, nothing makes sense even at the end: but that's because there are so many layers to director Cameron Crowe's film that you really have to see it twice. Or more.

Then, perhaps, it will "open your eyes."

Agree? Disagree? Tell me!

Ronald Bruce Meyer is a freelance reviewer.