Vanilla Sky: What Really Happened to Tom Cruise’s Character?

Vanilla Sky (2001) Meaning Of The Film, Explanation Of The Ending, Plot Summary. The point of Vanilla Sky is that love can be found by chance, and fairy tales are sometimes destroyed overnight.

This is a movie about how dreams can turn into a real nightmare, and the only thing you can do in this case is to open your eyes in time.

Country: USA, Spain

Genre: fantasy, melodrama, detective, thriller

Year of production: 2001

Directed by: Cameron Crowe

Actors: Tom Cruise, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz

Plot Analysis

All reviews and analyzes say that Vanilla Sky is a remake of the 1997 Spanish film Open Your Eyes.

Once upon a time there was a rich playboy David Ames (actor Tom Cruise). He had everything: money, a favorite thing, a beautiful apartment and a beautiful girlfriend.

Tom Cruise and Cameron DiazTom Cruise and Cameron Diaz as David Ames and Julianne. Frame from the film.

Once David met another woman and for the first time in his life fell in love for real. And everything would be fine, but he fell in love with his friend’s girlfriend, Sofia (actress Penelope Cruz).

David is a good guy, but very windy and a little self-centered, and he treats girls accordingly (the actor, who has this role as one of the best, plays his playboy perfectly and looks very organic on the screen).

One day, David got into the car with his girlfriend, who knew about the connection between her lover and Sofia. The girl (a wonderful role of actress Cameron Diaz) falls into hysterics and in a fit of jealousy decides to kill them both. As a result of the accident, David’s girlfriend died. He himself survived, but was severely injured, and his face was most seriously affected.

He falls into a severe depression, but still keeps thinking about Sophia and one day decides to meet her at a party. The meeting does not end well, and he, drunk, falls asleep in a ditch.

Further, the film “Vanilla Sky” turns from a melodrama into a psychedelic drama, which consists of several puzzles. All these puzzles add up to a single picture only in the last third of the film, but each of them has its own meaning.

Dream and reality

The events that surround the main character of the film, the further they go, the more they become like a dream. It is difficult for both him and the viewer to understand where the dream ends and reality begins.

Tom Cruise and Penelope CruzDavid and Sofia, played by Penelope Cruz. Frame from the film.

Everything that David is forced to experience in the second part of the film Vanilla Sky, after he fell asleep in a ditch, is the result of the activity of his subconscious, it is just a dream. In fact, he entered into an agreement with the mysterious Life Extension Corporation. According to the terms of the agreement, the corporation after his death will freeze his body for many decades. Then David took pills and was put into a dream-illusion.

In fact, his face was still ugly. The hero never saw Sofia again.

David and Sofia

In the dream, the relationship between David and Sophia developed rapidly and passionately: in the end, they spent the night together. Falling asleep in the arms of his beloved, he saw a nightmare in which his ugliness returned to him again.

In the middle of the night, he woke up next to the revived former girlfriend, Julianne. She tried to convince him that she was Sophia.

Most likely, this dream within a dream suggests that David felt guilty towards Julianne, but did not know how to atone for her.


The mask in the film “Vanilla Sky” is interpreted by many as an independent image, which has a special meaning. Some even saw a hidden meaning in it – for example, a reference to conspiracy theories.

In fact, a mask is just a mask. You can, of course, play with allegories: “take off the mask” / “tear off the mask”, but the explanation here is simple: this is an aesthetic prosthesis with which David hid his injury.

disfigurement maskFrame from the film.

Movie idea

The main idea of ​​the film “Vanilla Sky” partly corresponds to the idea of ​​”Crime and Punishment” by Dostoevsky. Unless Raskolnikov received his punishment from the state in the form of hard labor, and David is forced to pay for everything by the slow destruction of his mind.

All his nightmares are attempts by his “super-ego” to tell him that he is behaving incorrectly. The voice of his conscience is also a psychologist and best friend. By the way, they are also the fruits of his own imagination.

The meaning of the ending

The meaning of the ending of the film “Vanilla Sky” lies in the moral rebirth of the hero.

Closer to the finale, David, like Raskolnikov, is cleared. Standing on the roof of a skyscraper, David seems to see clearly and decides to let go of his past along with his sins. In the end, he decides to step into the unknown, get out of a sweet dream and return to real reality, although he understands that his future may not be as bright as he would like.

Thus, at the end of Vanilla Sky, an explanation is given that even the sweetest dream cannot replace real life. Not only actions, but also the attitude towards the people who surround us can come back to haunt us.

skyscraper and last wishFrame from the film.

Alternative versions

There are several alternate versions of Vanilla Sky’s ending. According to one of them, David’s illusions began precisely with a strong shock caused by both the death of Juliana and the injury after the accident. After a complex operation, David gains a new face, but shortly afterwards he has a nightmare in which he becomes disabled again. After that, a lot more happens, as a result of which the hero turns to the Life Extension corporation.

There, David concludes a contract according to which his body must be frozen for a hundred years, while the brain will receive a “new life” woven from his former dreams. That is, after the accident, David lives an imaginary life, but he was really frozen.

Why does everything go wrong? The image of Juliana, in the death of which he blames himself, does not allow him to live in peace. Killing her in a nightmare, he returns to the old infantilism, which led to the tragedy: he comes to the thought: “no person – no problem.” This is why the “new life” scenario turns out to be so bleak.

Programmed reality

Everything that happened to David is something like a program: the ending of the film “Vanilla Sky” makes it very vague for the viewer to understand. When he called for technical assistance, she came, and the specialists explained that the nightmares were caused by a glitch in the system. The hero thought he had returned to reality, but the team came up with his next life.

“Open your eyes”

The climax of the ending of Vanilla Sky is the line “Open your eyes”. Who uttered it is unknown, and one can only guess.

Most likely, these words were said by Sofia. The mise-en-scene at the evening of memory makes you think about it: Sophia’s behavior suggests that she knew that David would freeze himself. Most likely, she also decided to freeze herself in order to meet him in a new life. Her phrase “We will meet in a new life when we become cats” indirectly hints at this.

Hearing the phrase “Open your eyes”, the hero wakes up in his own bed. Perhaps it was just a dire warning? One can only hope that David does not make the same mistakes that he made in his dream.

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