Movie Review

Vanilla Sky

Forget everything you know, and open your eyes.
Vanilla Sky Movie Poster

US Release Date: 12-10-2001

Directed by: Cameron Crowe


  • Tom Cruise
  • David Aames
  • Penelope Cruz
  • Sofia Serrano
  • Cameron Diaz
  • Julie Gianni
  • Kurt Russell
  • Dr. Curtis McCabe
  • Jason Lee
  • Brian Shelby
  • Noah Taylor
  • Edmund Ventura
  • Timothy Spall
  • Thomas Tipp
  • Tilda Swinton
  • Rebecca Dearborn
Average Stars:
Reviewed on: January 23rd, 2004
Penelope Cruz and Tom Cruise in Vanilla Sky.

Penelope Cruz and Tom Cruise in Vanilla Sky.

Vanilla Sky is one of the saddest movies I have watched in a long time. At the end of this movie I had overwhelming urges to hug my wife and kids. Unfortunately, they were all asleep and they probably would have yelled at me for waking them up had I hugged them.

Tom Cruise plays a spoiled rich guy who inherited a business he does not treat very seriously. He has a lover who is only there for sex and to feed his ego. One day he meets a woman who he could potentially fall in love with. The very next day his lover turned stalker attempts to kill him by driving the car they are in off a bridge. He survives the attempt but his face gets horribly disfigured and his life becomes pathetically lonely.

Cruise does a great job of acting. In several scenes he is teary eyed and effectively emotional. Diaz shows that she has some serious potential. Her screen time is limited, but Diaz is proving to be an actress to be reckoned with. Cruz is adequate here, but I preferred her va-va-voom look in Woman on Top.

This movie has a surprising twist ending. It took me a minute to catch up. I mean, the film starts as a love story and then ends in science fiction. However, the movie has plenty to say about being lonely and reality. Although I found the ending to be a bit out of place, it still emotionally grabbed me. Now you will have to excuse me as I have to go and hug my family.

Reviewed on: January 26th, 2004
Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz in Vanilla Sky.

Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz in Vanilla Sky.

Vanilla Sky is a remake of the 1997 Spanish language movie Abre Los Ojos (Open Your Eyes). Penélope Cruz plays the same character, Sofia, in both movies.

I agree with Eric that the movie is sad but it is much trippier than he makes it sound. Yes the twist ending becomes pure science-fiction but the entire movie has a confused dreamlike quality to it. The audience is led to believe that Tom Cruise, as the disfigured David Aames, is going mad. He is unable to tell reality from fantasy. He doesn't even know for sure whether or not he murdered his girlfriend.

During most of Vanilla Sky I felt like I was watching a David Lynch movie and kept hoping that (unlike most of Lynch's movies) everything would be made clear before the end credits rolled. I usually don't like movies that play out too ambiguously. I'm sure for a director it is fun to make these 'anything you want to imagine is what happened' type movies but they are not very satisfying to watch. Fortunately all of the confusions in Vanilla Sky are made clear by the final scene.

One amazing scene worth mentioning is at the beginning of the movie. David Aames awakens to a deserted Manhattan. He drives to a completely personless Times Square, gets out of his car and starts running down the empty street. It is a powerful scene and shows the power of Tom Cruise. Very few stars have the box-office weight to take over Times Square to that extent just to film one short scene.

I have not seen the original version of this movie so I can't compare the two. All I can say is that Tom Cruise does a good job of inhabiting David Aames and making us feel his frustration and confusion. The special face-mask that he wears is creepy as hell looking. I agree with Eric that Cameron Diaz is good in her few scenes and that Penélope Cruz is surprisingly bland.

Vanilla Sky is filled with the kind of details that are more easily recognized on the second or third viewing. Twist endings have been popular in America ever since The Sixth Sense. Vanilla Sky is not as good a movie as that but as far as surprise endings go it does have a pretty good one.

Reviewed on: April 7th, 2005
Tom Cruise and Penelope Cruz in Vanilla Sky.

Tom Cruise and Penelope Cruz in Vanilla Sky.

I enjoyed Vanilla Sky, but I can't say that I was satisfied with it. I was fine with the surprise ending, and wasn't even very surprised by it. All the clues to what is going to happen are right there in the movie. My disappointment stemmed rather from the feeling that I'm still not completely sure of what was the point of the movie. It seems to be that the character of David (and by extension, we the audience) needs to take life more seriously and recognize his impact on the people around him. If this is the case, it takes an awful long time to make that point.

While I agree with Eric and Patrick that Diaz does a good job (and I'm not even a fan of hers), but I disagree about Cruz. I wouldn't use the word bland to describe her, but rather subdued. It's not hard to see why David would fall in love with her, or why Cruise would do the same in real life.

As for Cruise himself, I think he's adequate, but not great. While playing the cocky guy cruising through life at the start of the film, he's perfect, but after the accident he spends most of his time behind a mask or extreme makeup, both of which convey more of who he is than Cruise does.

A good movie, but one that takes too long to get where it's going.