Cloud Atlas is the latest film which Lana and Andy Wachowski (the creators of The Matrix) have been involved in. Cloud Atlas is considered by many (especially among its fan base) a revolutionary movie in regard to storytelling. It is also considered to deliver six different but well-connected stories, which have a profound philosophical meaning when seen as a whole. I do not agree with either of these arguments. I still think the movie is good though; only my reasoning behind it is not going to be the same.
Cloud Atlas tells six stories that takes place between 19th century and the distant future in parallel. The directors use the same actors for various roles and in a given space of time the character a particular actor play could be with a different gender or race. There are so many various impersonations that at times it is difficult to recognize the actor behind the character. This could seem like a mess but in fact, it's not bothersome at all. The change between the stories is not chronological and it's harder to follow it in the beginning. But once you become relatively familiar with each story and more importantly when (and if) you understand that there is not actually anything invisible, which you're missing, connecting the stories, the task of following them gets easier. I won't even try to describe the stories. They are about freedom, rebellion, seeking for a hidden truth and this is all you need to know.
The cast of the movie (including Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Grant, Susan Sarandon, Ben Whishaw, Jim Sturgess, etc.) has coped with the heavy task to render up to seven characters per actor very well. What I do not find to be quite successful is the actual connection between the stories. It relies mainly on the same characters and a few objects or events artificially tying the stories together. Thus I neither think the storytelling is really revolutionary nor there is such a huge meaning behind the movie. But this is actually a problem you could think thoroughly of only after the ending of Cloud Atlas.
And this is what makes the film working. When you are in the cinema, Cloud Atlas is really absorbing. You do care for the characters (well, at least for some of them). You want to see what is going to happen next in each of the stories despite realizing they are not so masterfully interconnected. The visuals are stunning. The music is good. The overall cinematic experience is great and you can hardly get bored during the long continuance of the film.
So, despite my opinion that the stories are not very well connected or revealing the meaning of life I can only admire the brave decision of Tom Tykwer and the Wachowskis to make this beautiful and tricky film. Cloud Atlas might not be really groundbreaking or making a perfect sense but it is superior to many movies which are easier to follow and undoubtedly reasonable. See it once and you may want to see it again.