What is happiness to you?
Vanilla Sky reunites director Cameron Crowe (Jerry Maguire) with über-playboy Tom Cruise, adds another sexy Cruz (Penélope) and Cameron Diaz for good measure, and delivers a wildly entertaining, bizarre venture into erotic science fiction. Adapted near exactly from Spanish filmmaker Alejandro Amenábar's 1997 romantic thriller Open Your Eyes, the film follows David Aames (Cruise) as he falls from his graceful Manhattan perch of inordinate wealth, good looks, and newfound love with Sofia (Cruz) because of severe facial disfigurement in a car accident caused by a suicidal ex-lover (Diaz). What at first promises to be a conventional allegory of redemption via true love is turned on its head as Cruise's character, reduced to wearing a latex mask and spurned by his friends, wins back his princess only after a miracle of plastic surgery restores his former beauty. A series of plot twists follows as waking life, technological advances, and nightmares flip-flop to dizzying effect and David ultimately comes face to face with his own mortality. Despite a final conceit to some vague morality, the appeal of the film is the wonderfully callous message conveyed by the rest of it (money and physical beauty equal happiness) through an unabashed vanity perfectly embodied by Cruise and Cruz. A delicious, decadent treat. --Fionn Meade