DOASKDOTELL MOVIE REVIEW of Vanilla Sky, Open Your Eyes


Title: Vanilla Sky

Release Date:  2001

Nationality and Language: USA, English

Running time: about 120 Minutes

MPAA Rating:  R

Distributor and Production Company: Paramount

Director; Writer: Cameron Crowe

Producer: Tom Cruise

Cast:  Tom Cruise, Penelope Cruz, Kurt Russell, Jason Lee,  Noah Tayllor, Cameron Diaz

Technical: 1.8 to 1 , digital

Relevance to site:  you create your own reality

Review: While on one level this movie is a typical love triangle of a rich boy chasing two women, it turns into a surreal exercise with interchangeable realities, someone inspired by David Lynch if much brighter here.  It is not as consistently creepy or disorienting as was Eyes Wide Shut. You move back in forth in time, and from one lifeline to another and one girlfriend to another, as if they were the same person. This film could provide sexy fun for java programmers wanting to provide textbook examples in inheritance and polymorphism.

   The images as Cruise moves in and out of handsomeness with his disfigurement and mask are striking enough. In a disco, he wears the mask on the other side of his face, turning into a Janus. This is a movie, then, about male vanity—that even the heterosexual man is to be beautiful.  At one place, he publicly announces “I am straight” to an ectomorph staring at him in a motel bar, when the stalker turns out to be a businessman (called ‘tech support” as if out of the X-files)  bringing him back into his dream state,  The stuff  about the cryogenics company seems tacked on. The World Trade Center shows, and Cruise gets to jump from a similar skyscraper. You experience the going down, like Zarathustra.


Open Your Eyes (“Abre los ojos”) (1997, Artisan/Summit, dir. Alejandro Amenabar, Spain, 117 min) is the original blueprint for “Vanilla Sky” with Madrid replacing New York. (I would have liked Bilbao.) Cesa (Eduardo Noriega) is a handsome rich young playboy. He wakes up in his suite, drives outside and finds the streets of Madrid emptied (rather like Tokyo in Pulse). On replay, the story gets going, like in a Beethoven sonata, perhaps, with pretty much the same rendition as the second movie, but this seems more effective. Madrid seems more modern and more like an imaginary paradise out of science fiction than New York can. (Ever notice how sharp and modern day Spain always looks in the movies? It really is like that.) The pieces of the story are: two women (Penelope Cruz, Fele Martinez), one good male friend (Chete Lara) he rides with one of them, she crashes the car in a suicide, his downright pretty face is disfigured (his body is still OK); he may or may not get the operation; he wears a mask like Janus in the disco (even when he vomits), he signs a contract with the cryogenics freeze-dry company so that when he wakes up he continues to live a dream, he may kill the girl friend with a pillow in bed, he may have the girls mixed up. The final shot – jumping off a tall building – is the same, dissolving into non-existence. This is a moviegoer’s movie, as you are never sure where imagination generates reality – and consequences – in real space. You create your own reality, like a witch. Believe it.


Related reviews: Eyes Wide Shut   Pulse


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