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Vanilla Sky (2001)

Open your eyes

Rating: 6/10

Running Time: 135 minutes

UK Certificate: 15


‘Vanilla Sky’ is a tough film to rate. Too interesting to be called bad, too pretentious to be called good, it is, in actual fact, somewhere in the middle.

Tom Cruise lends his generic good looks to the role of publishing tycoon David Aames, a man who – much like the film itself – has both his good and his bad points. He’s bright, witty, young(ish) and popular with the laydeez. Unfortunately, he also resides permanently up his own rear end, is vane to the point of making you want to kick him in the head, and has all the depth of a blank sheet of paper. Suffice to say, when things start going drastically wrong for him, it’s tough to care quite as much as we’re probably supposed to.

The turning point in the tale comes when, after spending an evening wooing the pretty Sofia (Penelope Cruz), he accepts a lift from jealous nut-job Julie (Cameron Diaz) and the pair of them are involved in an horrific car crash. Dave’s pride and joy – his phizog – is mangled in the wreck, and with his handsome exterior goes life as he knows it.

Prepare to be confused big-time as our central character is then plunged into a bizarre world where he’s unable to separate dreams from reality, and we suddenly find him a murder suspect recounting his life story to baffled prison psychologist Kurt Russell. There is, of course, an answer to why the film decides to “get weird on us”, but whether it’s worth sitting through over two hours worth of Cruise’s enforced grimacing to get there is debatable.

Based on ‘Abre los ojos’, a Spanish film from 1997, the movie’s premise is far from boring, but it lacks true invention and ends with a massively disappointing anti-climax. For what it’s worth, this was the second time I’d watched the film, and it definitely improves when viewed with the benefit of knowing what’s going on and what you’re supposed to be looking out for. Unfortunately, that’s scarcely reward enough for what amounts to four-and-a-half hours of viewing.

It's Got: Jason A Guy Thing Lee sporting some dodgy facial fuzz.

It Needs: To be shorter and give us a better ending.

DVD Extras Audio commentary featuring Tom Cruise, director Cameron Crowe, and composer Nancy Wilson, two featurettes (‘Prelude to a Dream’ and ‘Hitting it Hard’), an interview with Paul McCartney (not just for the sake of it – he actually wrote the Oscar-nominated theme tune), a Leftfield music vid, a couple of trailers, and a stills gallery introduced by photographer Neal Preston. DVD Extras Rating: 7/10


Watchable, provided you’ve got way too much time on your hands.