Vanilla Sky (2001)

reviewed by
David N. Butterworth

A film review by David N. Butterworth 
Copyright 2001 David N. Butterworth 
**1/2 (out of ****) 

Cameron Crowe's Americanization of the cult Spanish film "Open Your Eyes" ("Abre Los Ojos") is everything you'd expect from the director of "Jerry Maguire"--big and flashy, with rock songs a plenty on the soundtrack and a brave new performance from Tom Cruise. To say "Vanilla Sky" gets more than a little confusing, however, would be an understatement, as Crowe's film quickly delves into the notion that David Aames (Cruise), a wealthy Manhattan executive simply on account of inheriting 51% of his late father's publishing company, might easily be dead, dreaming, or both!

Aames's world of fast cars and fast skirts--Cameron Diaz plays David's

"casual" bed partner, the dreamy Julie Gianni--quickly starts to unravel when he meets the drop dead dazzling Sofia at a party (Penélope Cruz reprises her performance from Alejandro Amenábar's original 1997 film).

Unhappy with the abrupt lack of attention, Julie promptly drives David off a downtown bridge (it's in the trailers), killing herself and leaving David facially disfigured and asking a lot of Big Questions (one of which is why he's now facing a murder rap). A bespectacled Kurt Russell plays the shrink who tries to get inside David's head, or at the very least behind the latex prosthetic mask that his client chooses to wear from time to time, and "Almost Famous"'s Jason Lee is on hand as David's best bud who first introduces David to Sofia.

Convoluted and by turns mind-bendingly playful and annoying, Crowe's psychodrama is full of good intentions, a few decent performances (Cruise and Diaz included, although the other Cruz often looks stranded in that big coat of hers), and an amazing shot of a deserted Times Square early in the picture. But overall "Vanilla Sky" left this viewer feeling as though he'd stumbled into a David Lynch movie by mistake.

David N. Butterworth 

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