It's nineteen sixty-something. Jude (a charismatic Jim Sturgess) is a blue-collar dockworker cum artist from Liverpool who's sailed to America to find the ex-GI father who doesn't know he exists. Max (Joe Anderson) is a good-natured rascal who ditches his pampered life at Princeton for the chaotic energy of New York City. Jude and Max become the best of friends; Max even seems to approve when his luminous sister Lucy (Rachel Evan Wood) meets Jude and the two fall hopelessly in love.
Jude, Max and Lucy join a merry band of tie-dyed musicians, artists, and vagabonds in a Greenwich Village apartment full of smoke and beads and heady idealism. If it weren't for the Vietnam War, everything would be perfect. But when Max is drafted and Lucy becomes embroiled in anti-war activism, complications ensue.
If the names Jude, Max(well) and Lucy (as well as those of supporting characters like Sadie, JoJo and Prudence) seem more than a little familiar, welcome to the "spot the Beatles reference" game that makes Across the Universe a good-natured (if sometimes enthusiastic to the point of corniness) romp. The film is inspired and propelled by 33 Beatles tunes, 31 of which are unabashedly sung—character to character, character to camera, or character dreamily off to the distance—throughout the film. (The other two songs are used instrumentally.) In fact, more of the dialogue is sung than is spoken.
Uber-creative director Julie Taymor (best known for her wildly successful adaptation of The Lion King for Broadway, as well as for critically acclaimed, visually inventive films like Frida and Titus) has cooked up just enough story to move us from song to song. Plot and character development are merely necessary devices to get us to the ...1