Theatrical release poster
Directed by Cameron Crowe Produced by Cameron Crowe
Written by Cameron Crowe
Starring Tom Cruise
Music by Nancy Wilson Cinematography John Toll Editing by Joe Hutshing
Distributed by Paramount Pictures Release date(s) December 14, 2001 Running time 136 minutes Country United States Language English Budget $68 million Box office $203,388,341
Vanilla Sky is a 2001 American psychological thriller film directed, co-produced and co-written by Cameron Crowe. The film is an English-language remake of the 1997 Spanish movie Abre los ojos (Open Your Eyes), the screenplay for which was written by Alejandro Amenábar and Mateo Gil. The film stars Tom Cruise, Penélope Cruz (in a repeat of her performance in Abre los ojos) and Cameron Diaz, with Jason Lee and Kurt Russell.
Vanilla Sky has been described as "an odd mixture of science fiction, romance and reality warp", "part Beautiful People fantasy, part New Age investigation of the Great Beyond," a "love story and a struggle for the soul," and an "erotic adventure, romance, mystery, and psychological thriller, with a dose of science fiction."
David Aames (Tom Cruise) was the wealthy owner of a large publishing firm in New York City after the death of his father. From a prison cell, David, in a prosthetic mask, tells his story to psychiatrist Dr. Curtis McCabe (Kurt Russell): enjoying the bachelor lifestyle, he is introduced to Sofia Serrano (Penélope Cruz) by his best friend, Brian Shelby (Jason Lee), at a party. David and Sofia spend a night together talking, and fall in love. When David's former girlfriend, Julianna "Julie" Gianni (Cameron Diaz), hears of Sofia, she attempts to kill herself and David in a car crash. While Julie dies, David remains alive, but his face is horribly disfigured, forcing him to wear a mask to hide the injuries. Unable to come to grips with the mask, he gets overly drunk on a night out at a bar with Sofia, and he is left to wallow in the street.
David is awakened the next day by Sofia, who apologizes for not helping him, and brings him home. The two continue to see each other, and David has his face repaired. Despite the seemingly-perfect life, David finds oddities, such as brief visions of his distorted face, and a man (Noah Taylor) at a bar that tells him he can change the world. One day, when he goes to Sofia's apartment, he finds Julie there instead; all of the previous mementos of Sofia now showing Julie's face. Angry and confused, David suffocates Julie, and is later arrested and placed in a mental institution. The court psychologist Curtis talks about the incident with David over several sessions. During one interview, David sees a nearby TV advertisement for "Life Extension", a company that specializes in cryonic suspension, finding the name familiar. Under Dr. McCabe's guard, David is taken to the Life Extension offices, where the salesclerk explains they freeze people just after the point of death, until a cure for their ailment is available in the future - placing them in a lucid dream state. David becomes anxious and breaks free of Dr. McCabe, realizing he is in his own lucid dream that has gone wrong, and calls for tech support.
David finds himself in the empty lobby of the offices, and the man whom he has seen earlier at the bar appears, claiming to be David's tech support. As they ride up in an elevator to the top of an impossibly-tall building, the man explains that David has been in cryonic sleep for 150 years, after he killed himself with a drug overdose. David learns that when he signed a contract with the cryogenics company preserving him, he opted to start the lucid dream shortly after his drunken night when Sofia left him, under the "vanilla sky" from a Monet painting. However, during his sleep, the dream went horribly wrong and attempted to incorporate elements from his subconscious, such as placing Julie in for Sofia and creating a father-figure like Dr. McCabe. As they arrive at the top of the building, the man offers David a choice - either to be reinserted into the corrected lucid dream, or to wake up by taking a literal leap of faith off the roof. David decides to wake up, and envisions Sofia and Brian to say his goodbyes. David jumps off the building, his life flashing before his eyes, and blacks out moments before hitting the ground. A female voice commands him to "open your eyes" (a recurring theme in the movie), and the film ends with David opening his eyes.
- Tom Cruise as David Aames
- Penélope Cruz as Sofia Serrano
- Kurt Russell as Dr. Curtis McCabe
- Jason Lee as Brian Shelby
- Cameron Diaz as Julianna "Julie" Gianni
- Noah Taylor as Edmund Ventura/Tech Support
- Timothy Spall as Thomas Tipp
- Tilda Swinton as Rebecca Dearborn
- Michael Shannon as Aaron
- Ken Leung as Art Editor
- Shalom Harlow as Colleen
- Oona Hart as Lynette
- Ivana Miličević as Emma
- Johnny Galecki as Peter Brown
- Jhaemi Willens as Jamie Berline
- Alicia Witt as Libby
- Jennifer Aspen (uncredited) as Nina
- Steven Spielberg (uncredited) as Guest at David Aames' Party
The shooting of the scene of the deserted Times Square in New York was filmed in Times Square on November 12, 2000, in the hours before 10 am. A large section of blocks around Times Square was closed off while this scene was shot.
Vanilla Sky featured original compositions from Nancy Wilson and one original composition by Paul McCartney. It also features two Radiohead songs, "Everything In Its Right Place" and "I Might Be Wrong", as well as others by Sigur Rós, R.E.M., Joan Osborne, Looper, Todd Rundgren, Thievery Corporation, Underworld, Jeff Buckley, U2, The Monkees, The Beach Boys, Peter Gabriel, The Chemical Brothers, Josh Rouse, Creeper Lagoon and Freur. The Beatles song "Revolution #9" is briefly sampled. The film features the track "Untitled #4 (a.k.a. 'Njósnavélin')" by Sigur Rós, but because the track had not been recorded in a studio during production, the version featured in the film is a recording of a live performance at the 2000 Roskilde Festival in Denmark. Crowe thought Vanilla Sky had musical overtones, and expressed this through the use of music throughout the film. Music from Vanilla Sky was released as the film's commercial soundtrack. The soundtrack received acclaim from soundtrack critics, praising the film's musical selection as a compilational masterpiece which perfectly evoked the emotions sought by the cast; the soundtrack is responsible in large part for making Vanilla Sky a classic.
The song "The Healing Room" by Sinéad O'Connor can also be heard during the video presentation of "Lucid Dream" in Rebecca Dearborn's office, although it is not featured on the soundtrack.
According to Nancy Wilson, on the audio commentary to the film on CD, the Rolling Stones' "Heaven" is also featured in the film, as he is being transported to L.E.'s offices. This is also not on the soundtrack. Another song appearing at a critical juncture in the soundtrack is "Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space" by Jason Pierce and performed by Spiritualized.
According to Cameron Crowe's commentary, there are five different interpretations of the ending:
- "Tech support" is telling the truth: 150 years have passed since David Aames killed himself, and everything after his passing out on the sidewalk was a lucid dream.
- The entire film is a dream, as evidenced by the sticker on David's car that reads '2/30/01' (February 30 doesn't occur in the Gregorian calendar).
- The entire film after the crash is a dream that takes place while David is in a coma.
- The entire film is the plot of the book that Brian is writing.
- The entire film after the crash is a hallucination because of the drugs that were used on David during his reconstructive surgery.
Initial critical reaction was highly mixed. It holds a rating of 40 on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 162 reviews (65 positive, 97 negative). Metacritic reported, based on 33 reviews, a "Mixed" rating of 45 out of 100.
Roger Ebert's printed review of Vanilla Sky gave it a quite positive three out of four stars:
- Think it all the way through, and Cameron Crowe's Vanilla Sky is a scrupulously moral picture. It tells the story of a man who has just about everything, thinks he can have it all, is given a means to have whatever he wants, and loses it because — well, maybe because he has a conscience. Or maybe not. Maybe just because life sucks. Or maybe he only thinks it does. This is the kind of movie you don't want to analyze until you've seen it two times.
Ebert said that the ending "explains the mechanism of our confusion, rather than telling us for sure what actually happened." The film critic Richard Roeper greatly enjoyed this film, calling it the second best film of 2001.
A more mixed review from The New York Times early on calls Vanilla Sky a "highly entertaining, erotic science-fiction thriller that takes Mr. Crowe into Steven Spielberg territory", but then it notes:
- As it leaves behind the real world and begins exploring life as a waking dream (this year's most popular theme in Hollywood movies with lofty ideas), Vanilla Sky loosens its emotional grip and becomes a disorganized and abstract if still-intriguing meditation on parallel themes. One is the quest for eternal life and eternal youth; another is guilt and the ungovernable power of the unconscious mind to undermine science's utopian discoveries. David's redemption ultimately consists of his coming to grips with his own mortality, but that redemption lacks conviction.
A negative review was published by Salon.com, which called Vanilla Sky an "aggressively plotted puzzle picture, which clutches many allegedly deep themes to its heaving bosom without uncovering even an onion-skin layer of insight into any of them."
The review rhetorically asks:
- Who would have thought that Cameron Crowe had a movie as bad as Vanilla Sky in him? It's a punishing picture, a betrayal of everything that Crowe has proved he knows how to do right....But the disheartening truth is that we can see Crowe taking all the right steps, the most Crowe-like steps, as he mounts a spectacle that overshoots boldness and ambition and idiosyncrasy and heads right for arrogance and pretension — and those last two are traits I never would have thought we'd have to ascribe to Crowe.
Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian and Gareth Von Kallenbach of the publication Film Threat compared Vanilla Sky unfavorably to Open Your Eyes. Bradshaw says Open Your Eyes is "certainly more distinctive than" Vanilla Sky, which he describes as an "extraordinarily narcissistic high-concept vanity project for producer-star Tom Cruise." Other reviewers extrapolate from the knowledge that Cruise had bought the rights to do a version of Amenábar's film. A Village Voice reviewer characterized Vanilla Sky as "hauntingly frank about being a manifestation of its star's cosmic narcissism".
Cameron Diaz's performance, however, was critically acclaimed, with the Los Angeles Times' film critic calling her "compelling as the embodiment of crazed sensuality" and The New York Times reviewer saying she gives a "ferociously emotional" performance, earning Diaz a Golden Globe Award nomination, a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination, a Critics' Choice Awards nomination, and an AFI Awards nomination. Penelope Cruz's performance, however, earned her a Razzie Award nomination for Worst Actress (in addition to her roles in Blow and Captain Corelli's Mandolin).
In 2010, Vanilla Sky was voted as the most confusing movie of all time in a poll conducted by LoveFilm.com.
Vanilla Sky opened at #1 at the box office in the United States when it was first presented on December 14, 2001. The opening weekend took in a gross income of $25,015,518 (24.9%). The final domestic gross income was $100.61 million while the foreign gross income was slightly higher at $102.76m for a worldwide gross income of $203,388,341.
- ^ Box Office Mojo
- ^ a b Guthmann, Edward (December 14, 2001). "Vanilla guy / Smirky Tom Cruise lacks the depth for complex, surreal film". The San Francisco Chronicle. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2001/12/14/DD192893.DTL.
- ^ http://ae.philly.com/entertainment/ui/philly/movie.html?id=53986&reviewId=6605
- ^ Journal of Religion and Film: Vanilla Sky Review by Jason M. Flato
- ^ Movies: Cincinnati.Com
- ^ a b Mentioned by the director in the commentary track for the DVD release
- ^ Candler, T C. "INDEPENDENT CRITICS - Review Page". www.independentcritics.com. Archived from the original on March 20, 2006. http://web.archive.org/web/20060320210328/http://www.independentcritics.com/reviews/vanillasky.htm. Retrieved 2009-02-23.
- ^ Green, Brad. "VANILLA SKY: SOUNDTRACK". Urban Cinefile. http://www.urbancinefile.com.au/home/view.asp?a=5706&s=Soundtracks. Retrieved 2009-02-23.
- ^ O'Faolain, Eoin. "5 Soundtracks that are Better than their Movies". www.screenhead.com. http://www.screenhead.com/reviews/5-soundtracks-that-are-better-than-their-movies/#more-6158. Retrieved 2009-02-23.
- ^ "VANILLA SKY (2001) Soundtrack". http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0259711/soundtrack.
- ^ Rotten Tomatoes. "Vanilla Sky". http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/vanilla_sky/.
- ^ Metacritic. "Vanilla Sky". http://www.metacritic.com/movie/vanilla-sky. Retrieved 2007-12-03.
- ^ "Vanilla Sky". Chicago Sun-Times. http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20011214/REVIEWS/112140304/1023.
- ^ a b Holden, Stephen (December 14, 2001). "FILM REVIEW; Plastic Surgery Takes A Science Fiction Twist". The New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C0DEED8133FF937A25751C1A9679C8B63.
- ^ a b Salon.com Arts & Entertainment | "Vanilla Sky"
- ^ Bradshaw, Peter (January 25, 2002). "Vanilla Sky". The Guardian (London). http://film.guardian.co.uk/News_Story/Critic_Review/Guardian_review/0,,638653,00.html. Retrieved May 27, 2010.
- ^ Review by Gareth Von Kallenbach, Film Threat
- ^ village voice > film > Icon See Clearly Now by Michael Atkinson
- ^ From Paella to Pot Roast - MOVIE REVIEW - Los Angeles Times - calendarlive.com
- ^ WENN. "Cruise's Vanilla Sky Voted Most Confusing Movie". http://www.imdb.com/news/ni3425519/. Retrieved 2010-08-22.
- ^ "Top Gear; Series 06, Episode 11". http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0078xql.
- ^ "Cover Your Tracks". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cover_Your_Tracks.
- ^ "Vanilla Sky (2001)". Box Office Mojo. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=vanillasky.htm. Retrieved December 16, 2009.
- Eyes and Ears for Vanilla Sky at Cameron Crowe's Official website
- Vanilla Sky at the Internet Movie Database
- Vanilla Sky at AllRovi
- Vanilla Sky at Box Office Mojo
- Vanilla Sky at Rotten Tomatoes
- Vanilla Sky at Metacritic
- The "secrets" of the film, from the Internet Archive copy of a fan's now-offline website
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