Vanilla Sky (2001)

vanilla sky poster 2001 movie
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Good cast, challenges viewers

Tries too hard

Movie Info

Movie Name: Vanilla Sky

Studio: Cruise/Wagner Productions

Genre(s): Drama/Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Mystery/Suspense

Release Date(s): December 14, 2001

MPAA Rating: R

vanilla sky tom cruise car accident smiling

Tom Cruise…bringing the charm despite his face

David Aames (Tom Cruise) has it all.  He’s wealthy, attractive, and can have anyone he wants.  When he meets Sofia Serrano (Penélope Cruz), he thinks he found his soul mate.  Julie Gianni (Cameron Diaz) thinks that she has a relationship with David, and if she can’t have David, no one can.  David finds his life crumbling, but at the same time, strange overlapping moments could mean that David’s reality isn’t what it seems.

Directed by Cameron Crowe, Vanilla Sky is a sci-fi mystery thriller drama.  The film is a remake of Alejandro Amenábar movie Abre los ojos (Open Your Eyes) from 1997.  The movie was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song (“Vanilla Sky”).

I saw Vanilla Sky in the theater.  I remember not being entirely impressed by the film/story, but I also recall that I admired the film for trying something different.  I had not seen Vanilla Sky since the theater, but rewatching the film, I had the same feeling.

vanilla sky cameron diaz

Yep…I’m psycho

It feels like the story tries too hard to be edgy and changing.  The movie is filled with flashbacks, false memories, and odd overlapping occurances that alter the viewer that what you are seeing might not be reality.  At the end, it is all revealed to be a mind-screw and that Cruise’s reality isn’t as it seems.  This doesn’t come as a complete shock since it is hinted throughout the picture.  Instead, it feels a bit gimmicky in the reveal.

The cast is quite good and features a lot of up-and-coming actors.  Tom Cruise is of course charming and the movie almost forcefully plays against his role as a pretty boy by disfiguring his face and forcing him to wear a mask.  Cameron Diaz is believable as the psycho girlfriend, and Penélope Cruz reprises her role as the perfect girlfriend which she played in the original film.  The movie has lots of small roles with actors like Kurt Russell, Timothy Spall, Jason Lee, Tilda Swinton, Michael Shannon, Johnny Galecki, and Alicia Witt (plus, a cameo with Conan O’Brien).  A lot of the actors were established, but many of the players were up-and-coming so it is interesting to see the movie over fifteen years later.

vanilla sky bob dylan new york street tom cruise penelope cruz

Wait…are we just not supposed to recognize one of the most famous pictures of Bob Dylan?

The movie plays with the science-fiction aspect in that it appears to be a very normal film.  The movie’s visuals aren’t extreme and this is beneficial to the idea that it is a modern story and that the characters are living in the “real” world.  If the story had been hi-tech, it might have been more unbelievable.  Keeping it present day and realistic helps add to the mystery of what is going on.

Vanilla Sky is by no means a perfect movie.  It feels like it is often trying too hard and that the movie is desperately trying to be edgy.  Despite this, it is rather entertaining at points and is a fun twisting tale that leads to unexpected moments.  Tom Cruise is at his Tom Cruise-iest and it works for the story.  Open your eyes to the mystery and enjoy the film.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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