A Walk In The Clouds

on August 11, 1995 by " Jon Silberg
Director Alfonso Arau follows his "Like Water for Chocolate" success with this fable-like period piece that has some very nice moments when its sentimental script and leaden lead aren't holding it down. A young GI (Keanu Reeves) just back from World War II poses as the husband of a beautiful stranger (Aitana Sanchez-Gijon) when she confides to him on a bus that she's afraid to tell her old-world Mexican-American family that she has become pregnant while away at college. The soldier's plan--to spend one night at her family's Napa Valley vineyard and then "abandon" her (and return to his real wife in San Francisco)--is put off by a suspicious patriarch (Giancarlo Giannini) and by a meddling grandfather (Anthony Quinn) who sees before even the couple does that they really belong together. One thing leads to another...and the rest is no surprise.
Yet "A Walk in the Clouds" has a lot going for it. Its sprawling, burnished vineyard vistas evoke such classics as "Sunrise" and "Days of Heaven," and some of its performances are powerful. Unfortunately, Reeves is not the kind of actor the film needed to rise above the level of simple sentimentality. He brings to his role of disillusioned doughboy his signature in-your-face sincerity, but he needs to ooze the charisma Quinn and Giannini have so much of, or the pent-up passion portrayed by the lovely Sanchez-Gijon, to fill out a character who's supposed to seethe with internal conflict and passion.
In addition, the elegance and the storybook simplicity in some of the writing is short-circuited in other segments by patches of gratuitous, heavy-handed dialogue about such self-evident themes as learning to love and accepting people for what they are. "A Walk in the Clouds" is an enjoyable love story whose step falls just a little short of the magic of "Like Water for Chocolate. Starring Keanu Reeves, Aitana Sanchez-Gijon, Anthony Quinn and Giancarlo Giannini. Directed by Alfonso Arau. Written by Robert Mark Kamen, Mark Miller and Harvey Weitzman. Produced by David Zucker, Jerry Zucker and Gil Netter. A Fox release. Romance/drama. Rated PG-13 for moments of sensuality and war action. Running time: 102 min.
Tags: World War II, family drama, soldier, war, Alfonso Arau, Keanu Reeves, Giancarlo Giannini, Anthony Quinn, Aitana Sanchez-Gijon, Robert Mark Kamen, David Zucker, Jerry Zucker, Gil Netter, romance

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