Almost three hours long, a lugubrious sludge of mud soup called Cloud Atlas deserves a limp nod for pure guts, I suppose, but what I’d really like to do is burn it. Based on a genre-switching, era-hopping, style-abusing, tempo-thumping novel by David Mitchell that everyone has always labeled “unfilmable,” the labyrinthine, ridiculously bloated—$100-million, anybody?—head-scratcher of a movie is the mess that proves it.
Coming at us in sections like an exploding garbage truck, this adaptation is a single film that weaves an incomprehensible literary gumbo of unrelated stories in multiple time frames over a span of 500 years. Whew!
What a mess. 7th Monarch is the title of a confusing new play by Jim Henry, a writer from Chicago who got lucky, at the Acorn on West 42nd Street’s Theatre Row, a show that manages to seduce the audience into thinking something of import is going to happen at any minute. When two hours pass and it becomes obvious that nothing has happened yet, and nothing ever will, you wonder who to turn to in order to complain about it, but by that time the box office is closed and even the ushers are scratching their heads.
This is what I know.
You sense an instant prognosis of pretentiousness with the opening words of soundtrack narration in a horror called Perfect Sense: “There is darkness. And there is light. There are men and there are women. There is fruit. There are restaurants. Disease. There is work. Traffic.” And there is Ewan McGregor, who makes entirely too many movies and only occasionally makes an effort to speak the kind of English anyone can understand.