They don’t make movies like this anymore. A splendidly old-fashioned love story in the grand mode of ‘40s movie romances, “A Walk in the Clouds” should bring plenty of silver linings at the box office for 20th Century Fox.
Based upon the Italian neo-realist film “Four Steps in the Clouds,” “A Walk in the Clouds” is a story of passion, romance and family tradition. Scrumptiously mounted by director Alfonso Arau (“Like Water for Chocolate”), the film is a visual feast, a blend of smoldering skies, tempestuous pageantry and longing glances.
Set just after World War II, the film stars Keanu Reeves as Paul, a rootless Midwesterner who meets up with a charismatic and beautiful Mexican girl, Victoria (Aitana Sanchez-Gijon) in San Francisco. Victoria has suffered the wrath of her traditional father (Giancarlo Giannini), who rages that she is a single girl living in the city. In order to appease her father, Victoria convinces Paul to pose as her new husband, hoping that this traditional move will ease her father’s displeasure.
Unfortunately, it only ignites his anger: He rages against her bringing an “orphan” into their prosperous, cohesive lineage. For the diffident Paul, it’s a particularly vexing situation, but he is befriended by an unlikely source: Victoria’s cantankerous grandfather (Anthony Quinn), who recognizes the young man’s mettle.
Roiling with the emotional juices of love, confusion and personal loneliness, “A Walk in the Clouds” is a film of the heart. Screenwriters Robert Mark Kamen, Mark Miller and Harvey Weitzman have fashioned a sprawling but tender tale of human need and family kinship.
Once again, director Alfonso Arau has stirred his aesthetics with a vigorous blend of eroticism and personal grandeur. Visually, the film is a treat: It is spectacularly photographed by Emmanuel Lubezki, whose torrid hues and vigorous framings gave sustenance to the human passions they evoke.
Similarly, Maurice Jarre’s lusciously vibrant music adds just the right grace notes to this big-look movie.
The cast is splendid, beginning with Reeves as the stolid but honorable Paul. Sanchez-Gijon sizzles as the troubled Victoria, showing both her character’s vulnerability as well as her strong roots. Quinn is at his glorious best as the hardheaded paterfamilias, while Giannini brings credible furor to his role as protective father.
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: “A Walk In The Clouds” Location: East Sprague, Newport and Showboat cinemas Credits: Directed by Alfonso Arau, starring Keanu Reeves, Aitana Sanchez-Gijon, Anthony Quinn, Giancarlo Giannini, Evangelina Elizondo, Freddy Rodriguez, Debra Messing Running time: 1:43 Rating: PG-13