Review: Across the Universe

Across the Universe | Julie Taymor, 2007

Upon its release, Julie Taymor’s Across the Universe divided the few people who saw it right down the middle. Some saw it as a desecration of something that many people hold dear and that changed the music world, and therefore everyone that was involved in the production must be killed. Others saw it as a creative and imaginative attempt to make todays audiences realize how similar the 60s were today using music that is universally loved and understood by people of all ages. From the first time I saw it I knew that I would fall in the latter category.

Across the Universe is the story of Jude (Jim Sturgess), an Irish man who travels to the United States to look for his dad. Once he get that out of the way, he meets Max (Joe Anderson), a college student who does not belong there. They become friends and Max introduces Jude to his sister Lucy (Evan Rachel Wood). From there on, Max and Jude move on to New York and live with a handful of colorful characters, and also live in the middle of all the protests that arose because of the Vietnam war and soon Jude and Co. would be part of the movement.

As I said before, I loved this movie. It oozes creativity. This all thanks to Julie Taymor’s work. Every musical is inventive and entertaining. This is the best directed musical since Baz Luhrman’s Moulin Rouge!, another extremely divisive movie. To help with the visual greatness is Bruno Delbonnel’s cinematography. The art direction, make up, costumes, and visual effects are also used to great effect to create a dreamy, yet realistic version of the 60s.

Then there are the performances. Most of the performances are fine. Sturgess, Wood, and Anderson do a good job of carrying the film. There are others that were not quite as good, but worked within the context (I’m looking at you Bono).

Finally, the music. I’m no Beattles fanatic, but I do like their music and undertand their cultural importance. I guess that for this reason I find the covers here to be rather great. Every actor in the movie had a nice enough voice and bring their own personality to the performances, which was absoulutely necessary. Props to Elliot Godenthal for his arrangements.

Across the Universe is a great movie. It was always going to be a divisive movie even if the original arrangements had been used. The cast is good enough to carry the film and make it relatable, and Julie Taymor makes that world believable despite all the trippy imagery.

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