Living the Dream
Vanilla Sky
Review by Ross Anthony

Opening with a disorientating orientation shot, Tom Cruise fans need to beware ... this is not a "normal Tom pic." Don't expect "Top Gun," "MI2" or even "Far and Away." "Vanilla Sky" Vanilla Skypaints a far more impressionistic, surreal image on the screen -- its essence ping ponging between the warped, psychotic, fatally deranged ... and the light-hearted, best buddy, giddy in true love fool. Such wild, seemingly irresponsible, mood swings would drive anyone off the edge of sanity - Tom is no exception.

"... Don't invite happiness in without a full body search."

Tom plays the son of a deceased media mogul, he's a playboy living the dream, enjoying women, sports, and occasionally running a multi-million dollar publishing empire. However, something's very wrong with his picture. Disturbed by nightmares and an acute lack of true happiness, Tom steps squarely on the single most pivotal point in his life. Balancing precariously between the old and the new, the superficial and the true ... breaking at the seams, reality comes crashing through his dreams.

"You will never know the exquisite pain of the guy that goes home alone."

Director Cameron Crowe ("Almost Famous") brings to the silverscreen, that rich feeling of in-between and fresh intercourse among characters Vanilla Skyunexplored by other filmmakers. Edgy dialogue and clean real reactions to sharp words and actions grace this surreal film from beginning to end. Each scene, each expression in each eye of Cruz, Cruise, Diaz and Lee, in fact, each detail, motif, and visual is carefully realized on film, creating a highly vivid feature of specifics, instants, moments - almost like our own real lives. But that pendulumming mood, even Crowe can't quite keep a firm grip on the dangerously reckless spirit of the film. Seldom manipulated to perfection by any filmmaker (Shyamalan got it down in "Sixth Sense") the chi of "Vanilla Sky" slips a bit out of control, then is unremarkably resolved in the end with uncharacteristic exposition to clean up the excess spillage.

Interesting notes: Cruise & Cruz, Cameron & Cameron: To avoid confusion the "Crews" dubbed Diaz "CD." Also, "Vanilla Sky" is a remake of Alejandro Amenabar's 1997 Spanish romantic thriller "Abre Los Ojos." Producer Paula Wagner says, "It's the equivalent of doing a cover to a great song." Penelope Cruz plays Sofia in both films. "Vanilla Sky" is scored by the director's wife: Nancy Wilson -- yes, of the rock band "Heart". (Btw, sisters Ann and Nancy are slated to reunite "Heart" in 2002.)

  • Vanilla Sky. Copyright © 2001. Rated R.
  • Starring Tom Cruise, Penelope Cruz, Jason Lee, Cameron Diaz, Kurt Russell, Noah Taylor.
  • Written for the Screen and Directed by Cameron Crowe.
  • Produced by Paula Wagner, Tom Cruise, Cameron Crowe at Paramount/Vinyl.


Copyright © 2001. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit:

chili4 special olympians
power5 ra hforh radiop

Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 07:43:11 PDT