Choosing these scenes and explaining why is sometimes difficult. I don’t want to reveal too much of my own history through these choices and yet the idea of writing for this blog was to give my own personalized angle on pop culture. I want to show off my knowledge, remain detached and inject some emotion into what I’m writing about but sentimentality and self indulgence can soon take over, damaging the supposed integrity of my thought process. But, what am I without emotion? I can’t deny my true self and so must let it bleed into my work or else disappear into a universe where thousands, possibly millions of writers, both professional and hobbyists offer opinions & styles that differ very little from one another.
Vanilla Sky was an Americanized big budget, remake of a stylish psychological thriller from Spain entitled Abre Les Ojos starring Tom Cruise and directed by Cameron Crowe, both of whom had both worked together previously on the highly successful comedy drama Jerry Maguire in 1996. I hadn’t seen the original but was intrigued by some of the reviews of the film at the time which hinted at an edgier, more adult change of pace for it’s star though I certainly wasn’t an acolyte of Crowe’s brand of tastefully sound tracked rose tinted humanism.
So I went with a girl I was seeing and living with at that moment in time. We were in the early, tentative stages of a relationship and we shared several enthusiasms, particularly music and films. As the film unfolded, an occasionally dark, often moving cautionary tale of a man who takes his life and love for granted, we occasionally glanced at each other, both of us clearly enjoying the film and it’s dreamlike/nightmare feel and structure, recognizing certain bands and songs used throughout for certain scenes which elevated our opinion of the overall quality of the movie no doubt.
This is a quite laborious method of stating how important this movie was to me and still is. It triggers off certain memories of times, events and places that we shared. The movie became a symbol, transcending it’s time and place, going beyond criticism. It was a visceral, emotional, haunting experience for me at least. And that’s saying something for a Tom Cruise film.
What the film was about also mirrored what we were both experiencing; sharing our passions, opinions, dreams with each other to leave an imprint of sorts on each other. In Vanilla Sky, the lead character is in cryogenic suspension for the most part, experiencing a lucid dream comprised of all the memories of his life, from childhood to adulthood. These memories are informed by pop culture and so David’s ideal dream world references his favourite music, movies and art.
In this poignant final scene shot by John Toll to resemble a Monet painting and featuring the sky-scraping sounds of Sigur Ros, the disfigured millionaire playboy portrayed by Cruise must choose between dreams and reality. He is on the verge of psychological collapse. It is time to either face up or turn away the truth.