Vanilla Sky is a drama-thriller starring Tom Cruise as David Aames, a successful owner of a publishing firm. David’s life is perfect – he is wealthy, attractive, and has women throwing themselves at him. He even has a stalker-girlfriend Julie, played by Cameron Diaz. David soon meets Sofia, played by Penelope Cruz, a friend of a friend who he instantly falls in love with, much to the chagrin of Julie. Julie goes into crazy stalker mode and attempts to kill both herself and David in a car accident – however, David survives, albeit with terrible injuries. The rest of the film narrates his recovery from the traumatic incident and how it affects his personal life.
One of the major themes in the film is David’s vanity. He was handed his successful company and his wealth by his late father, and so David feels that the only thing he is responsible for in his life is his appearance. He is extremely concerned about his vanity because he believes that it is the only part of him that he can control. With it, he is able to get almost any woman he wants. After the accident, David is left facially disfigured along with a mangled arm – however, David cares very little about his arm. Most people would be distraught over their injuries overall, but David is only concerned with his facial appearance. Before the accident, David was meticulous when it came to his face, always examining himself in the mirror and plucking out grey hairs. After the accident he removes the mirror from his bathroom because he cannot stand the sight of his face, leading him towards using the mask to cover his face.
One of the aspects I loved most about the film was the changing evolution of David and his best friend Brian, played by Jason Lee. At the beginning of the film, the two friends are almost identical – the only difference between them is that David is full of confidence, mainly due to his vanity, whereas Brian is not. David is the one pushing Brian to succeed, but after the crash these roles are reversed. Brian becomes the one supporting David, and this is no better shown than the bar scenes after the accident. These scenes mirror the ones from David’s party before the crash, and focus on Brian and then David’s actions when one or the other is drunk. After David's accident he loses much of his confidence in comparison to Brian, who has gained his back through his pursuit of Sofia.
David experiences severe mental breakdowns after the accident, leading to his apparent murder of Sofia. However, the end of the film presents a variety of possible endings to the viewer, leaving it up to them how they wish to interpret the film. Some of the more popular theories include the events of the film being the plot of Brian’s novel he is writing, while another involves everything after the crash is a dream experienced while David is in a coma. The theory I like the most is the one acknowledged most by the film – David is in a lucid dream under the care of Life Extension. This theory consist of David going to Life Extension after discovering Brian and Sofia’s relationship, and cryogenically freezing his body so he can be with Sofia in a lucid dream until technology had become advanced enough to repair his face. I love films like this that present a variety of ending to the viewer, because then it is up to each viewer to decide how they want the film to end.