Thursday morning, fans of David Mitchell’s mind-blowing novel “Cloud Atlas” discovered the trailer of the upcoming film version was online. However, that was a little earlier than Warner Bros. intended, and some websites have taken it down at the studio’s request. I saw it at JoBlo.com, where it may still be available.
“Cloud Atlas,” which was a finalist for the Man Booker Prize, is a novel that works really, really well as a book, but some of its greatest pleasures come from exactly that bookishness. It is set across hundreds of years. It has unexpected narrative jumps. It allows readers to make connections for themselves. Can any of that work on film?
It has a chance: The film is co-directed by Tom Twyker, who directed “Run Lola Run,” and the Wachovskis, who brought us "The Matrix.” It’s also said to be about three hours long, which is all to the better for the adaptation of a book with the complexity or “Cloud Atlas.”
Indiewire watched the trailer closely: “As big fans of the book, we’ve wondered for some time if the filmmakers would be able to come anywhere close to its material, but we have to confess that this is pretty stunning, for the most part. The production values look incredibly high, the scope and ambition and variety is like nothing else we’ve seen in a long time, and the cast, aided by some excellent make-up, look to be rising to the occasion; we can’t remember the last time we saw [Tom] Hanks or (more briefly) [Hugh] Grant look so engaged in their material (and if you’ve ever wanted to see Hanks as a goateed, balding London gangster, or Grant as a warpainted cannibal, the chance has finally arrived). We have no idea what you’ll make of this if you’re unfamiliar with the book. And we have no clue if this’ll actually work as a whole.”
The film stars Hanks, Grant, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Jim Broadbent, Bae Doona, David Gyasi, Susan Sarandon, Keith David, James D’Arcy and, to my delight, Ben Whishaw. He plays Robert Frobisher, my favorite character in the book -- if miscast, I simply wouldn’t have been able to watch it. But judging by the trailer, all is well.
The film is scheduled to debut at the Toronto International Film Festival on Oct. 26. On Wednesday, Entertainment Weekly got an exclusive first look at some “Cloud Atlas” photos, which are guaranteed to be online.