Tom Tywkver and Andy & Lana Wachowski‘s adaptation of Cloud Atlas has sort of become the definition of the word ambitious. It is based on a book and is a very unwieldy work. It is a collection of 6 stories all of which are neatly interrelated and covers over a century, dipping its toes into many genres and having a Tolkien-esque number of characters. But even more ambitious is the filmmakers’ scope for the film which instead of having a bloated cast will see actors take numerous roles.
This has been confirmed by Ben Whishaw who told Vulture that the actors will play roles that don’t even stick to the respected actor’s gender:
Everyone in the cast is playing at least three parts, some big and some small. I’m doing three: Frobisher in the thirties; a female American in the seventies, in the Luisa Rey section; and a smallish role, where I’m basically an extra, in a modern-day nursing home, in the Timothy Cavendish section. Everybody’s swapping race and gender, so it’s very ambitious and quite fun. I’ll really love playing a woman!
One of the roles Whishaw will be playing is Robert Frobisher, which is the lead role in the second story. Having actors swap genders is an interesting idea but I think it could backfire hideously and just turn into laughable nonsense. Of course there is a cheap irony in this artistic decision considering one of the Wachowski’s has had a very hush-hush sex change from Larry to Lana.
Cheapness aside there is something stopping me from getting enthusiastic about this project. I just can’t take it seriously and despite an impressive cast which includes Tom Hanks, Susan Sarandon, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent and Jim Sturgess, it sounds like a really extravagant big budget project that could turn into a massive flop a la Heaven’s Gate or Waterworld.
Cloud Atlas is due for release late next year.