4 comments on “Movie Review ~ Cloud Atlas

  1. Re cross-racial casting: I’ve seen the film. None of the white actors playing Asians used “Asian accents”; they mostly used their own voices, as did Zhuo Xun and Bae Doona did when playing white and/or Mexican (though she spoke Spanish at one point, which was key to the storyline). I think the transparency was deliberate so viewers would draw connections between various different characters in different storylines. A lot of politically-correct hysteria has been stirred up over this aspect of the film– much of it by white pseudointellectuals.

    At the Toronto International Film Festival press conference for the film, the actors were each asked in turn which character was their favorite; almost without exception they said they most enjoyed playing a character of a different race or gender. Halle Berry has repeatedly noted that the film offered her roles and opportunities no other film could. Trying to clumsily wedge this movie into the old Hollywood “yellowface” tradition (or the more recent tendency to remake/recast Asian films with white actors) is laughable and insulting. The whole point the filmmakers are trying to make is that we should try to be transcending racial (and other) difference and understand our common humanity.

    Some are so bent in framing Asians, African Americans, women, etc as victims in every debate that they’re complicit in maintaining the sort of boundaries once only enforced by bigots. It’s fair for any critic to say they felt the makeup in the film was unconvincing in some ways, or that this or that performance didn’t work. But the film is in no way racist. I think it makes some people uncomfortable (both racist and politically correct) because it dares to ask how important this part of our identity really is.

    • Joe says:

      Thanks for reading and for your comment. I appreciate the added insight. I did feel that the manner of speech in the Neo Seoul sequence had a small accent to it but its entirely possibly my ears were playing tricks on me as well. I agree with everything you pointed out — I’d also never call the film rascist in any way. Part of my review was just to call out that in that particular sequence some of the make-up effects just didn’t sit right with me…not out of a need to stand up for anyone or my own personal feelings. I think every actor in the film is doing high quality work (except for Hanks, sorry!) and especially appreciated the added layers that Berry showed.
      Thanks again for keeping me in check 🙂

      • I never intended to accuse you of racism… sorry if I came across that way. I did agree with the bulk of your review (yes, Hanks was wildly uneven.) The makeup effects weren’t always perfect, and some identity politics commentators have conflated this (and the mere notion of cross-racial casting) into accusations of racism. I think that to some extent, the filmmakers are deliberately prodding at our comfort zones with the cross-racial casting, but they’ve gone out of their way to explain (in a few bits of dialogue) that Neo-Seoul is no longer purely Korean, that the official language is now English, and that there’s been a corporate (perhaps Western) infiltration of the culture. The actors put on different voices/accents with each of their characters (and seemed to speak more deliberately in the Neo Seoul segment), but I didn’t hear any of the “flied lice” offenses one hears in bad old Hollywood movies.

      • Joe says:

        No worries — like I said, I’m so glad you spoke up! I very much enjoyed hearing your side/take on the film. All three directors like to push the button in one way or another which is what more filmmakers need to do. I, for one, really can’t wait to see it again.
        I hope you’ll keep reading and let me know if I’m going off base on something 🙂

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