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Vanilla Sky

Vanilla Sky is a 2001 film which tells a story of a young multi-millionaire who is charged with murder. more...

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The film stars Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, Penélope Cruz, Jason Lee, and Kurt Russell. The film was directed by Cameron Crowe and is a close remake of the 1997 Spanish film Abre Los Ojos (Open Your Eyes), which was written by Alejandro Amenábar and Mateo Gil. Penélope Cruz appeared in the original film in the same role. The film grossed around 100 million dollars in the U.S.

Early in the film, the principal character mentions Monet's "vanilla sky" in a painting.


Tom Cruise plays David Aames, a handsome and spoiled young man who is severely disfigured in an automobile accident caused by Julianna "Julie" Gianni (Cameron Diaz). Things become tense between David and his friend Brian (Jason Lee) — and between David and Sofía (Penélope Cruz), who forms one-third of an awkward love triangle with David and Brian. Approximately halfway through the film, David begins to have a series of very disorienting experiences culminating in his arrest for a murder of a woman alleged to be Sofía but whom he believes to be Julie. Psychologist Curtis McCabe (Kurt Russell), working on David's case, becomes something of a father figure to him.

During much of the film, the skies are all "vanilla", just as in Monet's painting(s) — perhaps a little too much like the painting(s). That is the only clue that we are in a fantasy film about simulated reality, because the film seems to be about modern life and a successful womanizer who becomes the victim of a Fatal Attraction.

It is eventually revealed that this entire portion of the film has been an extended dream, assembled largely from pop-cultural images (it is also revealed that Dr. McCabe is wholly fictional). This simulated reality is the creation of a cryonics company called Life Extension (LE) that has sold the protagonist David (played by Cruise) a "lucid dream", which the company calls the "cryonic union of science and entertainment." The subject's body is kept frozen, but his or her mind is left to roam free in a simulated reality that branches from the real life at a certain point (so the subject has no recollection of his death). If something goes wrong with the simulation, the company can send technical support (played by Noah Taylor) to the subject.

Unlike the plethora of films such as "Total Recall", eXistenZ, The Thirteenth Floor, etc., where the ambiguity of whether one is experiencing the reality or an illusion is a critical point used to support the ending, this film does not use this trick. The two layers — the reality and the simulation are distinct and David can himself choose when to exit the simulation. He does so and presumably ends up in the mid-22nd century, with his face restored and himself mortal and ready for the new real life in the future.


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