I just read a review of Cloud Atlas that I can’t take seriously for one big reason… the writer called the casting of Hugo Weaving as a woman in one of the stories a “casting stunt”. Thinking about the directors of the film for a second and you’d realize that their mind set isn’t that it’s stunt at all.
The Wachowskis, who directed the film, used to be known as The Wachowski Brothers… that term no longer applies as Larry is now Lana Wachowski. Whether she went through gender reassignment or is in the process of it is her own business and I won’t dive into that, but I understand that Lana wants to considered a woman and has the right to be addressed as such.
The Wachowskis are a very queer friendly pair and were before Lana had her transformation. Their first big film is about a lesbian couple ripping off the mob. Many scenes are shot in one of their favorite bars, which is a gay bar and features gay actors that are friends of theirs. They’re from San Francisco and don’t have many of the hang ups that the general populace has, including myself (though I’m trying to be more open minded and learn more about the queer populace of planet Earth).
So here’s a pair that makes a film where many of the actors play multiple roles and thanks to make up and costumes are able to play the different roles as different races or genders. This is a land make achievement in film making as many of it looks startlingly real (with the exception of a few things no amount of make up can fix). Now casting Hugo Weaving who has played queer before with Priscilla: Queen of the Desert, as a woman in one of the stories is being called a casting stunt. But is it?
It may seem that way to some, but why? Women have played men in films for years, men have played women in the past as well and then there’s been middle ground like Tilda Swinton playing genderless in Constantine (I know, the film isn’t good but I love her performance in it).
Now with that in mind and the idea of the directors, one of whom is transgender, who could it be considered a stunt? The mind set of the directors, whom I have no right to speak for of course, probably isn’t thinking about it that way, especially when that’s not the message of the film.
The moment I read that I couldn’t take Geoff Chapman’s review seriously. His mind wasn’t open to the idea and that’s not the perspective I’m going to be going into the film with. Whether or not his other criticism are correct or not is a matter of debate, as all criticisms of art are pointless because in the end it matters what the audience thinks and what you think AFTER you’ve seen the film (which I have not).
This is just me, just my hang ups with reading about it, but it strikes me as odd that this guy is a film critic when he can’t grasp these ideas or seemed to over look them completely, when as a fan of films myself they’d help inform how I’d think of the film before even going into it.
Author’s Note: Please correct me if any of the language I used is offensive to the LBGTQ community. I don’t mean to offend or upset anyone with my word usage.