Vanilla Sky

2001, Movie, R, 115 mins

Review

VANILLA SKY
starstarstarstar
An overblown Twilight Zone episode, this nearly scene-for-scene remake of 1998's slickly creepy ABRE LOS OJOS ("Open Your Eyes") feels enervated and logy, its energy sucked into the vacuum of Tom Cruise's star power. David Aames (Cruise) is on top of the world: He's rich, handsome and runs his late father's trendy magazine empire with the hedonistic disdain of a prince. With armies of sour-faced worker ants on staff to do the "work," David devotes himself to the perks, like the glittering girls who flutter seductively around him. At David's 33rd birthday party, his less-handsome, considerably less-wealthy best friend Brian (Jason Lee) shows up with a personable beauty on his arm. Her name is Sofia (Penelope Cruz, who also starred in the original film), Brian says; they met that afternoon in a library, and he thinks she just might be the one. Brian's confidence doesn't stop David from turning on the high-voltage charm, or from spending the night at Sofia's charmingly rundown apartment. All they do is talk, mind you, but David's fundamental caddishness is firmly established. Brian isn't the only partygoer miffed by David's shameless flirting. The following morning, David finds leggy beauty Julie Gianni (Cameron Diaz), with whom he's been enjoying a meaningless fling, waiting at the curb. The fling, it turns out, was meaningless to David but meant rather more to Julie. She entices David into her car, then, bitterly decrying his careless manhandling of her heart, drives headlong off a bridge. When David eventually emerges from his accident-induced coma, he learns that Julie is dead and he's been horribly disfigured. David tells this tale to a court-appointed psychiatrist (Kurt Russell) from behind an eerie, flesh-colored mask; David has been arrested for murdering someone — maybe Julie, maybe Sofia... Things all get mixed up in the telling. Is David's face really scarred, or has it been repaired by a miraculous new form of plastic surgery? And what of David's dream about finding himself in a thoroughly deserted Times Square? Are the empty streets just a symbol of loneliness, or are there more sinister implications? Writer-director Cameron Crowe preserves the original film's plot twists and turns, but his version lumbers when it should be whipping along, daring you to keep up. The wall-to-wall pop music soundtrack eventually becomes oppressive, and Cruise's oily smile doesn't really constitute a characterization — Tilda Swinton blows him out of the water in her all-too-few minutes of 11th-hour screen time. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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