David Aames is a vain and self-centered playboy whose life is changed forever by the beautiful and intelligent Sophia. His new romance is cut short by a scorned lover, who nearly destroys his life and permanently scars him in a horrible car accident. After recovering from a short coma and an ineffective facial reconstruction surgery, David's life is turned upside down when Sophia rejects him based on his new looks, but he awakens one morning to find himself in an ideal world where Sophia falls back in love with him and doctors are able to fix his disfigurement. Things aren't as perfect as they may have seemed, however, as David later describes to a police psychologist after being charged with the murder of Sophia.
VANILLA SKY might only be enjoyed by anyone who has never had the benefit of seeing the original OPEN YOUR EYES by Spanish director Alejandro Amenábar. The choices that were made in both the casting and script revisions in this American remake are simply abysmal. Cameron Crowe lays on a cheap sentimentalism through the film's sappy soundtrack and nostalgic homages to classic cultural influences, but these are only minor distractions compared to the shockingly bad performances by Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, and Jason Lee. It is as if each of these actors mistook the screenplay as a comedy of some sort given their outlandish efforts. Cruise is the film's greatest liability, since his erratic behavior reduces the brilliant character drama into a silly farce. Crowe presumes that his American audience will be far less perceptive than the world viewers that praised the original, so he drops blatant visual clues throughout the film that clearly delineate dreams from reality. In doing so, he eliminates the subtle effectiveness that Amenábar worked so hard to create in his cleverly-designed plot. The beautiful irony in all of this is that the viewer will hope to wake up from the same horrible nightmare that David has found himself in by the end of the movie. Amenábar couldn't have written that better, himself.
If you liked VANILLA SKY, check out:
INCEPTION, DARK CITY, MEMENTO.