There are a lot of things happening in “Vanilla Sky” some of them are real (or at least the audience is made to believe they are) and some are only dreams (or once again, at least one is to believe that). The movie can and does get very confusing, but it does something that is somewhat rare and perhaps not always appreciated: It makes you think. This happens not only while you are watching the movie, but also long after you have left the theater.
David Aames (Tom Cruise) is a good-looking, wealthy young man who seems to have it all. He appears to be superficial with everyone, including his best friend Brian (Jason Lee). Brian may be the only one who can see anything “real” about Aames. David floats through life and feels that everyone else will react to things the same way he does. He sleeps with the beautiful Julie Gianni (Cameron Diaz), and because he doesn”t want anything more than sex out of the relationship, he expects she feels the same way.
Brian warns David straight off that he will never be able to appreciate the “sweet” in life without experiencing the “sour.” David shrugs off this little but important warning until he meets Sofia (Penelope Cruz). Despite the fact that his friend met her first, he thinks nothing of pursuing her. Sofia is the perfect woman to David because she isn”t like everyone else in his life. She, like Brian, is real.
The two share a perfect evening together just laughing, talking and cuddling. In the morning while David is leaving her apartment, Julie, who has been following him, offers David a ride. Reluctantly he accepts the offer only to have Julie go crazy and drive them both off the side of a bridge, killing herself and leaving David”s face extremely disfigured. Unfortunately, this is only the first 20 minutes of a 135 minute movie, and there is not much more one can write about the plot of “Vanilla Sky” without giving away important details.
“Vanilla Sky” is a remake of a 1997 Spanish film called “Abre Los Ojos” (Open Your Eyes). For all intents and purposes, “Vanilla Sky” is basically a shot-for-shot, scene-for-scene replica of its predecessor. Both even share Penelope Cruz as the leading lady playing the role of Sofia. Despite these similarities, “Vanilla Sky”s” director Cameron Crowe does a better job at clearly wrapping up the final scene as well as imparting an important lesson.
“Vanilla Sky” seems to be warning the audience that things are never as good as they seem to be, and if they are, something is wrong. What life would be worth living without a mixture of both the good and the bad? Could a person truly enjoy life without knowing both sides of the coin? If you could choose a life with only the good, would you want it? These are all interesting questions, and “Vanilla Sky” does its best to struggle with them. “Abre Los Ojos,” however leaves things much more open to audience interpretation.
Whatever the issues whether it be the dreams versus reality, tricky plot twists or the overall sense of confusion the viewer is called upon to try to follow along and make sense of it all before the credits roll. If you are left up in the air at the end, you will be in good company.