When I first started my blog, aiming to watch 50 films in a year, I asked a real film buff what his favourites were, and what he would recommend. ‘Vanilla Sky‘ was in his Top 10 movies, he said. It’s a weird one, that’s for sure.
David Aames (Tom Cruise) is a handsome chap and is worth a few bob as well, having inherited a successful publishing company from his father. He lives the life – fast car, beautiful women. Somewhat unkindly, his best friend interprets David’s relationship with Julia Gianni (Cameron Diaz) as that of ‘fuck buddies’. After his own birthday party, when David is introduced briefly to the beguiling Sofia (Penelope Cruz), Julia confesses that she is actually in love with David. When it becomes clear to her that he doesn’t feel the same way, she rather spectacularly drives her car off a bridge and into a wall. Julie dies, but David survives, albeit with his face severely disfigured. Now he has lost his looks, will everything else disappear as well?
This part of the story is told in flashback, because David is recounting his life to a psychologist, Curtis McCabe (Kurt Russell). David has been arrested for murder and the Dr. is preparing a report on Aames’ mental state for the courts. There is clearly something wrong with David as he keeps having terrible dreams and nightmares, seems not to be able to distinguish reality from imagination. The reasons for his twisted perceptions are revealed – and it does take a bit to get your head round it! I found the ending ambiguous, probably deliberately written to be so, but that wondering always leaves me feeling a little dissatisfied. I prefer my ends tied up.
I think Tom Cruise’s reputation has been damaged in more recent years, following his marriage breakdowns and involvement with the Church of Scientology. Nevertheless, he made his name as an actor and whilst I don’t think ‘Vanilla Sky‘ is one of his best performances, he’s still good. Cruz, on the other hand had me utterly transfixed! With her lilting accent, gamine figure and expressive eyes, I thought she was wonderful (not that I am prone to girl crushes!). However, my critical skills have taken a bit of a bashing, as I discovered that her appearance in ‘Vanilla Sky‘ saw Penelope nominated for a Golden Raspberry ‘Worst Actress‘ award. I console myself with the knowledge that I am in good company in thinking she’s cool – Cruise dated her for 3 years after they appeared together in ‘Vanilla Sky‘. Surely Tom Cruise and I can’t both be wrong?