I have watched Vanilla Sky three times now, and every time it has left me powerfully affected. It deals with many topics that interest me, particularly the study of dreams vs. reality, and the nature of relationships, and love. There is much that is very good about it, however it contains one major flaw that prevents it from being truly great.
The acting, is overall top notch. Jason Lee turns in yet again another stellar supporting role; he radiates charisma in this performance, and fits the role given perfectly. Cameron Diaz is a fine choice for Julianna, she brings an almost maniacal sense of urgency to her character that was both disturbing and complusively watchable; she simply looks amazing on film. Tom Cruise performs more than adaquetly as well, and perhaps the greatest kudos must be given to Penelope Cruz, who simply lights up the screen here. Her charisma is unmistakable, and she infuses this film with life and vibrancy. This is a film with many powerful images, be it the gorgeous vanilla skies that soar over New York within the dream, or the (SPOILER) unforgettable image of Cruise's David Aames waving farewell to his disfigured reflection in the mirror. It entices in the first viewing, draws you in irresistably, and apon further viewings still moves with great pacing, and many subtle clues and hints can be found that help the viewer understand the nature of David Aame's reality. My only real complaint is that Cameron Crowe for some inexplicable reason (though it certainly must have been because of confused test audiencies, those who this film is not intended for anyway) chose to come out at the end of the film and blatantly reveal all of the films secrets and twists; he talks to the viewer as if we were 5 years old and need him to hold our hand. This film could have been very similar in nature to, and even rivaled Lynch's masterpiece Mulholland Drive had Crowe not chosen to do so, and it is very disappointing that he did in fact choose to do so. But this aside, the film is very compelling and often powerful. I still love the questions it raises concerning love (if his love with Sofia wasnt "real", than does it still have meaning?), and the image of "I will find you in another life, when we are both cats" that so powerfully emphasizes the power that love can have, and the joy and awe surrounding that human emotion. For a similar image look in the closing chapters of the novel The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman. But i digress. This film is solid, even coming from hollywood, and with big name stars attached. I would certainly recommend it to anyone who is willing to be challenged slightly by the film they watch, and those who love to be moved.