Beyond The Clouds

on December 01, 1999 by Bridget Byrne
This movie is all smoke and mirrors--or, more precisely, fog and archways, doors and windows. Filmed in 1995 by Michelangelo Antonioni and pulled together after the director's ill health by top, tail and linkage footage supplied by Wim Wenders, the movie is typically enigmatic, but rarely compelling. Musing on the power of inner thought and imagination, the film is far from deep, but instead feels superficial and one-dimensional. Perhaps that's the point--the filmmaker as voyeur stands back from everything including his own thoughts--but it doesn't make for much excitement.
What it does make for is John Malkovich as a filmmaker in search of his next scenario, wandering around Europe in a winter of our discontent: The season of perpetual cloud and rain has a depressing effect on the audience. He encounters, hears about or recalls a collection of lovers' trysts of various duration, and greater and lesser degrees of nudity. There's pretentious dialogue and pretentious silence, Malkovich's voice and presence personifying both. There are many beautiful women and a couple of men who qualify as good to look and others who don't. The nude love scenes are neither erotic nor emotionally captivating.
Fanny Ardant as a jilted wife manages to stand out from the general blur for a few moments and Jeanne Moreau, who pops up for a few seconds, etches herself on screen more effectively than younger beauties like Sophie Marceau and Ines Sastre. There is visual beauty also in the scenic shots, especially the archways and passageways of the French and Italian towns, but--like the entire scenario and the weather it's filmed in--no radiance. Starring John Malkovich, Sophie Marceau, Fanny Ardant, Peter Weller, Vincent Perez, Irene Jacob and Jean Reno. Directed by Michelangelo Antonioni. Written by Michelangelo Antonioni, Tonino Guerra and Wim Wenders. Produced by Philippe Carcassonne and Stephane Tchal Gadjieff. A Sceneries Entertainment release. Romance/Drama. Unrated. Running time: 113 min
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