David Aames (Tom Cruise) has it all: wealth, good looks and gorgeous women on his arm. But just as he begins falling for the warmhearted Sofia (Penelope Cruz), his face is horribly disfigured in a car accident. That's just the beginning of his troubles as the lines between illusion and reality, between life and death, are blurred.


David Aames has it all. The inheritor of his father's successful publishing company, he lives in a swank New York apartment and has his choice among women. Julie Gianni, Cameron Diaz, is one of them; David looks on her as a friend and occasional bed-mate; Julie wants more. So when David's friend, Brian, Jason Lee, arrives at a party with Sofie, Penelope Cruz, a girl he's just met, David has no hesitation in hitting on her, even though Julie and Brian are plainly jealous. That's the beginning of a wild journey involving the destruction of David's well ordered world which is transformed into a place where nothing is real, where popular art, favourite movies and record albums intrude on reality, a place where the line between the real and the dream becomes hopelessly blurred...

Vanilla Sky is, on the surface, an ambitious film, but it's a lazy one. It's a very faithful remake of a 1997 Spanish production, Open Your Eyes, directed by Alejandro Amenabar, whose film The Others was executive produced by Tom Cruise. The Spanish film hasn't been released in Australia yet, but the question hovering over these remakes still remains: Why bother, if you can't do it better? Vanilla Sky is a heady mixture of genres: romantic thriller, Fatal Attraction like woman-wronged saga, and, ultimately, science fiction fantasy. Cruise and Cruz are an attractive couple (she played the same role in the original film), and there's a strong supporting cast, which includes, in small roles, Noah Taylor and Tilda Swinton. But it's disappointing to see Cameron Crowe, the director of the excellent Almost Famous, content to re-jig someone else's ideas, however efficiently he manages it. Given the events of September 11, the film's ending comes across as unusually creepy.



Watch 'Vanilla Sky'

Saturday 7 August, 8:30pm on SBS World Movies (streaming after at SBS On Demand)

USA, 2001
Genre: Drama, Mystery, Science Fiction
Language: English
Director: Cameron Crowe
Starring: Tom Cruise, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Kurt Russell, Tilda Swinton, Jason Lee, Noah Taylor, Timothy Spall, Michael Shannon

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2 hours 16 min
In Cinemas 10 December 2001,