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Wow, not really sure where to begin with this one. It's a very strange film and at one point towards the end, I had absolutely NO idea what was going on. There are dreams within dreams, flashbacks during dreams, murders that happened or maybe they didn't. I got most of the plot for you and I think it's almost all in order... if not, sorry, I tried!
The film opens up as we see Tom Cruise waking up to an alarm that speaks. It says "Open your eyes" in a very seductive tone voiced by Penelope Cruz. He is living in a luxury apartment in downtown Manhattan. Cruise gets up, cleans up and drives off to work in his classic Ferrari. Along the way there, he notices that there's nobody around. The streets of Manhattan are completely empty. He jumps out of his car and in the middle of an empty Times Square looks up to the sky and screams.
We then cut back to the same room and Cruise is being awoken again by the talking alarm clock, this time voiced by Cameron Diaz. He gets up and goes through the exact same routine but this time when he passes his bed, Cameron Diaz is there. They had just spent the night together. They are great friends and he considers her his sex buddy (although he would never tell her that).
Cruise heads out again, this time driving a classic Mustang in the now crowded downtown streets. He arrives to work late but we soon find out that it doesn't matter because he is the 51% owner of a large publishing company. His parents had left him the business after they died in a car accident 10 years earlier. The other 49% is made up of the old board of directors he refers to as the 7 dwarfs. They absolutely despise Cruise and the power he has over them.
It's now Cruise's birthday and he is having a celebrity filled party at his home. His best friend (Jason Lee) shows up with a date he met earlier that day, Penelope Cruz. Cruz and Cruise are immediately attracted to one another. He eventually takes her home and they spend the night together. They don't have sex, just lots of talking and looking at pictures.
In the morning as Cruise is walking back to his car, Cameron Diaz pulls up.
She convinces him to go for a ride with him and after a few minutes she starts freaking out. She talks about happiness and her love for Cruise and how he mistreated her. She drives the car off a bridge, crashing into a street below.
Cameron is killed and Cruise is badly disfigured.
We next see Cruise talking to a psychologist (Kurt Russell) in jail. Cruise is being held for murder and Russell is just trying to piece everything together. We do a lot of flashing back and forth with Russell and Cruise talking.
We learn that Cruise was in a coma for 3 1/2 weeks after the accident. His arm is almost useless and his face is pretty hard to look at. He was given a mask to wear by his team of plastic surgeons.
Eventually Cruise gets the courage to see Cruz again. She agrees to party with him but doesn't want to be alone with him so goes to the club with Jason Lee to act as a kind of buffer. Later that night she tells Cruise that she can't be with him and will explain it all in another lifetime (maybe when they are both cats). Cruise and Jason Lee walk her home. When they get close, she tells them goodnight and leaves. Jason Lee talks with Cruise for a minute or so then takes off running towards Penelope's apartment. Cruise follows after them and sees them kissing goodnight.
Cruise passes out and falls to the ground (he had a lot to drink).
He is awoken on the street the next morning by Penelope again saying "Open your eyes." They express their love for each other and all is great again. Under a beautiful vanilla sky, they walk away from the street corner and it looks eerily familiar to the album cover of a Bob Dylan album (important later on).
There is a lot more back and forth flashbacks with Russell and Cruise. Russell reminds Cruise that the plastic surgeons repaired his face and wondered why he still wears the mask.
We then cut to Penelope and Cruise together and see her removing Cruise's mask. His face is completely healed. They get passionate and spend the night together. In the morning, Cruise looks over to Penelope on the other side of the bed. He moves the covers and sees that it is Cameron. He freaks out and demands to know what happened to Penelope (Sofia). Cameron keeps repeating that she is Sofia.
Cruise ties her up and the next thing we know, he is being bailed out by his company's lawyers after being arrested for beating up Sofia/Cameron.
It goes back and forth a little more with Russell and Cruise with Russell asking who Ellie is. Seems that Cruise had been calling out for her. Cruise has no idea who Ellie is.
Cruise goes back to Penelope's house and discovers that all the photographs he looked at earlier with Penelope are now all the same photos only with Cameron in them instead. Cameron is there and they begin to argue again and she goes into the bathroom. And a few moments later Penelope comes out. She and Cruise embrace and begin making love again. Once again it turns out that he is making love to Cameron and he freaks out and smothers her with a pillow. He then realizes that he just smothered Penelope.
Back at the prison Russell tells Cruise that he will no longer be seeing him and will plead that he was temporarily deranged when he committed the murder. As Russell leaves, Cruise notices that on the TV is a commercial for a cryogenic company called LE (Ellie). That's it!
Russell takes Cruise to the LE offices and they look over the sales pitch. Turns out that you can sign up for a special program that enables you to stay in a dreamlike state while you are frozen and you control all the aspects of your dream and can decide at what point in your life your dream begins.
We discover that Penelope never did wake Cruise up in the morning and instead he staggered home and tried to get his life in order. He never could get over Penelope rejecting him and signed up for the program, then committed suicide. The person he murdered was himself.
His dream began in the morning with Penelope waking him up on the street. The sky was a beautiful vanilla sky from a Monet painting of his mothers. One of his favorite albums was the Bob Dylan one which he was subconsciously reenacting. Problem is, the dreamstate he is in is a nightmare. His subconcious played a huge part of his dream. Russell was just part of the dream and the whole murder scenario was his guilt of commiting suicide. The Cameron/Penelope switch was his subconcious guilt of the way he treated Cameron.
These nightmares weren't supposed to be hapening, there is something wrong with the program. He calls out for the LE tech help and a rep who had been popping up throughout the film shows up. He takes Cruise to the rooftop of a very tall NY building.
On the rooftop he tells Cruise that he has to make a choice. He can either stay in the dreamstate with the new and improved program with all the bugs worked out, or can conquer his fear of heights he's had all his life and jump off the building which will wake him up and out of his frozen dream. 150 years have passed and Cruise knows that Penelope will no longer be around, nor will his wealth.
Cruise says he wants to go home and jumps off the building. He falls down, just like in a dream and just before he hits the ground, we hear a nurse telling him to open his eyes.
The film ends as we see a closeup of one of his eyes opening.
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