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Vanilla Sky is a 2001 psychological thriller starring Tom Cruise, and a close remake of the original Spanish Open Your Eyes (Abre Los Ojos), with the interesting fact that Penelope Cruz played the same character in both movies.
David Aames (Tom Cruise) tells the story from a prison cell to his psychiatrist, Curtis, while wearing a prosthetic mask he refuses to take off: David was a Millionaire Playboy who inherited a publishing company after the death of his father. He met Sofia (Penelope Cruz). As they became instantly attracted to each other, he brushed aside his "fuck buddy", Julianna (Cameron Diaz). When Julianna heard of this, she tried to kill herself and David in a car accident. She died but David survived with a disfigured face. He is haunted by increasingly bizarre occurrences.
With all that said and done, please just watch the movie before going any further. Major spoilers ahead.
- Arc Words: "Open Your Eyes."
- "See you in another life, when we're both cats."
- "Every passing minute is a another chance to turn it all around."
- Alien Sky: The sky is the same milky orange with white clouds as the sky in David's mother's favorite painting, so his subconscious made it that color all the time.
- As Himself: Spielberg's cameo might be an example of this.
- All Just a Dream: The ending explains that everything that has occurred after the nightclub. In real life, after that night, he signed a contract with a company that preserves its clients' bodies after death and keeps their brain waves active in lifelike virtual reality dreams, and then committed suicide. The bizarre occurrences are explained as glitches in the program. In the end, he decides to wake up from the dream program.
- Berserk Button: Do NOT have the audacity to call an obvious mask, a "prosthetic shield"...
Dr Pomeranz:: It's a helpful unit.
- Betty and Veronica: Subverted - David makes it clear from the very beginning that he has no real interest in Julianna (the "Veronica" of the two) and is really just using her for casual sex.
- Bittersweet Ending: Because it was All Just a Dream, all the scenes after the nightclub didn't really happen. David never did get Sofia in the end and he's still disfigured. Then he decides to return to the real world, set far into the future where they can fix his face and he may even have the chance to find Sofia "in another life." Additionally, he will probably keep and cherish the dream memories of Sofia. Altogether, an ending which leaves you hopeful.
- He's also flat broke, not having bothered to provide for himself.
- Broken Masquerade: Of the Artificial Realm variety.
- The Cameo: Steven Spielberg pops in for a minute at David's party.
- Chekhov's Gunman: Benny, the dog.
- Coitus Uninterruptus
- Cuckoo Nest
- Daylight Horror: The opening dream sequence.
- Dream Within a Dream : David has several dreams during the movie.
- And in the end, we cannot say for sure that David has waken up. After all, he wakes with Sophia telling him to "open his eyes" - and we didn't see him hit the ground (he is terrified about the impact, not about the heights). Maybe the entire movie was just the tech support fixing the glitch?
- Driven to Suicide: Julianna and David.
- Dying Dream
- Ethical Slut: Here seen working better in theory then in a reality where people are löying to themselves.
- Foreign Remake: Of the Spanish film Abre Los Ojos. The director of that film was credited as a producer and, as mentioned, Penelope Cruz played the same character in both films. Nearly every scene is identical as well, making this a closer remake than most examples.
- Foreshadowing: "Ellie".
- Friends with Benefits: David has a "Fuck Buddy" relationship with Julianna. Julianna takes things a little more seriously and when she finds out the true nature of the relationship, it doesn't end well.
- Gainax Ending
- Genre Busting: Psychological thriller? Romantic drama? Science fiction?
- Grey and Gray Morality: Even the "good" people in the movie like Brian and Sofia make morally questionable decisions: Brian tells Julie that she's David's fuckbuddy, for instance, and Sofia's (admittedly understandable) abandoning of a David very clearly in need of help. Similarly, even the "bad" people are sympathetic and mostly mean well: Julie's suffering Love Makes You Evil more than she's actually a villain.
- How We Got Here: The beginning is told from David to Curtis.
- Human Popsicle
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
Ventura [pointing towards the camera]: Your panel of observers are waiting for you to choose.
David: My dreams are a cruel joke. They taunt me. Even in my dreams I'm an idiot... who knows he's about to wake up to reality. If I could only avoid sleep. But I can't. I try to tell myself what to dream. I try to dream that I am flying. Something free. It never works...
- One that could be interpreted as either this or a Meaningful Echo: "I'll see you in another life, when we are both cats."
- Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Sofia could be interpreted as such.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The Twist Ending still leaves just enough room for this trope to fit.
- Millionaire Playboy: David.
- Mind Screw: Most of the second half up to The Reveal.
- My Greatest Second Chance : Maybe?
- Nothing Is Scarier: The opening dream sequence. Seeing Times Square completely empty rivals seeing London completely abandoned just a year later for creepiness.
- Property of Love: Brutally defied - In her heart Julianna truly belongs to David, and they both know it. Yet they pretend to simply be friends who have fun together, and it works just fine... Until it doesn't.
- Red Herring: The Seven Dwarves.
- Reference Overdosed: According to Word of God, there are 429 pop-culture references in the film, 428 of which were intentional.
- Remake Cameo: As noted above, Penelope Cruz plays the same character she did in the original film. Additionally, the first words spoken in the film are "abre los ojos", the title of the original.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: Sofia's death.
- Standard Fifties Father: It is implied that David invented a father figure for himself (Dr. McCabe) in this mold, based on Gregory Peck in To Kill a Mockingbird.
- Taking You with Me: Julianna.
- Through the Eyes of Madness: Until the ending.
- Trope Maker / Older Than They Think: Vanilla Sky/Abre los Ojos beat Inception to the punch by
about ninemore than ten years, in terms of exploring the idea of medically-induced lucid dreams.
- Twist Ending
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Not only does Julianna destroy her own life and David's, her memory also destroys a certain universe.