Film Review – Vanilla Sky (2001)

Title – Vanilla Sky (2001) 

Director – Cameron Crowe (Almost Famous

Cast – Tom Cruise, Penelope Cruz, Jason Lee, Cameron Diaz, Kurt Russell, Timothy Spall 

Plot – Disfigured in an horrific accident just as he finds the woman of his dreams, successful publishing heir David Aames (Cruise) begins to have trouble deciphering his memories from his reality as he awakes from a coma. 

“Every passing minute is another chance to turn it all around”

Review by Eddie on 04/05/2022

In a career that started all the way back in 1981 with debut feature Endless Love and continues to this day with the likes of Top Gun: Maverick and multiple Mission Impossible’s on their way to cinemas around the globe in the near future, Tom Cruise’s Christmas release from 2001 Vanilla Sky stands out from an incredibly resilient filmography as one of Cruise’s most daring and unique big budget efforts. 

Teaming up with his Jerry Maguire collaborator Cameron Crowe, a directional effort that too stands out as an odd one out in the director’s romcom/dramedy heavy C.V, Sky see’s the two Hollywood veterans re-imagine Alejandro Amenábar’s 1997 Spanish film Open Your Eyes, as they transport the story to New York City as Cruise’s wealthy businessman and self-centered ladies man David Aames has his life upended by a near fatal car accident that leaves him disfigured and trying desperately to reconnect with the potential love of his life and his memories. 

Unafraid to get extremely weird, Sky would have to be one of the most trippy Hollywood event pictures from the early 2000’s, Crowe and Cruise take the audience on a wild ride that melts timelines and real and fake as Aames (often under the clad of a very creepy facial mask) battles to understand where his life sits following his accident and where his destiny lays if he can’t find and build a relationship with Penelope Cruz’s Sofia Serrano, a woman that offers him the chance at a normal life and meaning in a world his lost touch with. 

Saying too much more about where Sky goes and just how bizarre things get would ruin the fun too be had from viewing this film for the first time and while its not hard to see why audiences and even more so critics were fairly harsh to Crowe and Cruise’s big brand feature, it’s also not hard to see why Sky has since garnered a mostly positive reputation post release with even its main star declaring this is a personal favorite for him, a bold statement from someone that’s stared in the likes of Magnolia, Collateral and The Last Samurai. 

Speaking of the films leading man, Cruise delivers a divisive performance here and one that will continue to split opinion but his commitment is as strong as you’d expect from the determined performer and his a stoic presence throughout the film even when it veers off the rails only to find its way back again again creating a topsy turvey experience but one that can’t be faltered for ambition and big ideas, something sorely lacking in many such films as this today. 

Final Say – 

A film that to this day remains a unique and ambitious undertaking, Vanilla Sky doesn’t always soar and its ideas sometimes remain out of reach of its grasp but there’s no faulting Cruise and Crowe’s attempts at creating something special in a landscape that usually plays it safe. 

3 floor TV’s out of 5 

8 responses to “Film Review – Vanilla Sky (2001)

  1. A genuine huge favourite from that era, and a killer soundtrack kicking off with Radiohead. I’ve seen this one a lot, and love all the off-kilter time-lines and actually one of Cameron Diaz’s best performances really.

    Cruise and Cruz are fantastic to!

    Oh, and Jason Lee on his classic anger binge of the time, which fits in perfectly to his role in Almost Famous.

    • The whole movie really shocked me with how strange it was willing to get, including the performances. A very curious moment in the career of all concerned.

      • Yeah definitely, it’s dark – that club scene with the mask and everything, when you really think of the level of the audience they were targeting (and the time/reality leaps) are great really!

  2. I don’t remember much about this one except that it was too bizarre for me and I didn’t enjoy it that much. After reading your review it sparked an interest to see it again, and I’ve found sometimes I like a movie better the second time around. Plus my wife probably hasn’t seen it and is a fan of Tom Cruise so why not give it another try? Thanks for the review.

      • Vanilla Sky was one of my favorite examples of how a specifically and understandably flawed film could still resonate with me on surprising levels. It was the first where I’d taken notice of Penelope Cruz for her special talents as an actress and certainly as one of Tom Cruise’s most unforgettable leading ladies. Thank you, Eddie, for your review.

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