A Walk in the Clouds (1995) / Romance-Drama
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for sexuality and some violence
Running Time: 102 min.
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Aitana Sanchez-Gijon, Giancarlo Giannini, Anthony Quinn, Angelica Aragon, Evangelina Elizondo, Freddy Rodriguez, Debra Messing
Director: Alfonso Arau
Screenplay: Robert Mark Kamen, Mark Miller, Harvey Weitzman
Review published June 29, 2005
Director Alfonso Arau (Picking Up the Pieces, The Magnificent Ambersons) made a splash with his previous effort, 1992's Like Water for Chocolate, and he returns to the whimsical romance genre for the English language A Walk in the Clouds, mostly to lesser but still enjoyable results. It's a very old-fashioned kind of film, a remake of a 1942 Italian film Four Steps in the Clouds (Quattro Passi fra le Nuvole), and with the exception of some more modern themes and overall sexiness, this update probably could have been made without much alteration back then as well.
The time is 1945, shortly after the end of World War II, where soldier Paul Sutton (Reeves, Chain Reaction) has come home to the United States to his seemingly ambivalent wife and to start his new career as a lowly chocolate salesman. This only takes him so far, and soon Paul needs to get away and find something more, taking a bus to get out of the area. He keeps running into the same unfortunate but attractive Mexican woman named Victoria (Sanchez-Gijon, The Machinist), who seems quite anguished about coming home to see her father (Giannini, Mimic) because she is pregnant, unmarried, and the father wants nothing to do with her -- all of which will bring shame to the proud, affluent family. Seeing her dilemma, Paul consents to a plan to be her husband for a day and then to leave her by morning so that the family will not be ashamed. However, as Paul meets the family, he finds reasons to stick around, especially when he begins to develop romantic feelings for Victoria, but her stubborn father will not accept him or their "marriage" no matter what.
A Walk in the Clouds is a throwback film to a more romantic and innocent area, and how much you enjoy this film will greatly depend on how much of a hopeless romantic you are, and you'll especially find it pleasing if you yearn for the romantic movies of yesteryear. Much of the dialogue is very hokey, almost cringe inducing, but if you accept the main premise, it seems to fit right in with the kind of trite love story that it is.
Also of interest is the beautiful scenery and cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezky (Meet Joe Black, Sleepy Hollow), with the foggy vistas and gorgeous green vineyards. It's almost worth watching just to take in the breathtaking sights alone. Of course, it also helps that most viewers will probably deem the lead actors easy on the eyes as well.
A Walk in the Clouds isn't a great romance, but there is an earnest appeal in its simplistic characterizations and old-fashioned wide-eyed romanticism that will meet well for those openly accepting of it. Scrooges, you've been warned. This one's for nostalgic dreamers only, the ones who find walking in the clouds a familiar thing to do.
©2005 Vince Leo