So what's so wrong with this movie?
Richard J. Teasdale | Grand Blanc, MI USA | 06/14/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I read all the other reviews for this movie, and I was amazed at the negative comments the guys made about it. Well, I'm a guy and I loved this movie. Okay, so Keanu Reeves doesn't get the award for best dramatic actor of the century, but he's a lot better than, say, Jim Carey. I didn't perceive him as "woody" or "stoic," but rather I saw him portraying a polite and shy young man who helps out a young woman in distress at his own personal inconvenience. That's a trait you don't see very often these days. It's a pleasant and refreshing change to see a young soldier who is actually moral and decent and willing to help, even at personal loss to himself. Yes, it's a huge chick flick. So what? A lot of chick flicks are great movies, and this is one of them. Buy it and watch it with someone you love. You'll have a great time. The photography is spectacular. The music is great. The story is predictable, but then, so are the plots of most of the action movies. It's a rare movie that is completely unpredictable. This is one you won't forget. Thanks to those who produced it for giving us a good example of the way real men act around women, particularly women in need. This is one movie you can watch with anyone... your spouse, your kids, your date. It's a good, clean, moral tale of shivalry that warms your heart and restores your faith in humanity. It's a totally enjoyable experience."
An excellent old-fashioned love story.
Erik Olson | Ridgefield, WA United States | 03/06/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've enjoyed a number of Keanu Reeves' movies, from "Bill and Ted" and "The Matrix" to the more recent "Constantine." "A Walk in the Clouds" is one of his forays into the romance genre, and it's a favorite of mine in that category. The story begins during the waning days of WWII, where Army veteran Paul (Reeves) arrives in San Francisco after four years of combat. He makes his way home and surprises a wife he barely knows. After an awkward reunion, she practically shoves him out the door the next day with an admonition to start raking in the bucks by selling chocolates. The life of a traveling salesman is not what he had in mind, but he decides to make a go of it for her sake.
On a train bound for Sacramento, Paul literally bumps into Victoria, a mysterious, attractive Latino woman (Aitana Sanchez-Gijon) who immediately vomits on him. After a couple more odd encounters, they wind up together on the side of a country road. She tearfully informs Paul that her grad school professor-slash-lover impregnated and then dumped her. She fears that her ultra-conservative, autocratic father Alberto (Giancarlo Giannini) will kill her for soiling the Aragon family name by returning home an unwed mother. A scheme is hatched where Paul agrees to pose as Victoria's husband for a day, and then abandon her so she can save face. Of course, things don't quite work out so easily, especially when Paul and Victoria begin to have feelings for each other.
"A Walk in the Clouds" is a visual and relational treat. The scenery of the Aragon estate and surrounding vineyard is almost otherworldly in its lush beauty (hence the movie's title), and made me want to book the next flight to California wine country (even more than "Sideways" did). More impressive was the close-knit traditional Latino family atmosphere, dramatically embodied in the sensual winemaking ceremony, where the married women dance the newly harvested grapes into juice. However, all is not perfect in paradise. Alberto is threatened by his non-traditional daughter and Stanford educated son, who wants to apply modern business theory to the old-world winery. "Gringo" Paul becomes the focal point for his insecurities, and their conflict escalates towards an uncertain and traumatic resolution.
Some have criticized Keanu Reeves for having a "wooden" demeanor. True, he's not the most expressive performer in cinema. But his low-key acting style perfectly fits the character of Paul, a man of the stoic WWII generation dealing with PTSD and his status as an orphan. I was able to sympathize with and root for Paul throughout his journey, and I commend Mr. Reeves for enabling me to do that. The other actors also turn in excellent performances, especially the late Anthony Quinn as Don Pedro, the chocolate loving, brandy drinking sage patriarch who takes Paul under his wing. He provides a good contrast to Giannini's driven Alberto, so concerned about preserving his family that he's forgotten how to love them. And I can't leave out the lovely Aitana Sanchez-Gijon, whose passionate and intelligent Victoria is the thinking man's movie-character catch.
"A Walk in the Clouds" is one of the most romantic movies I've ever seen, and it holds up well under repeated viewings. Highly recommended.
WARNING: The next paragraph has some SPOILER content, but for those concerned with moral content I want to comment on Paul's character and must do so within the context of a choice he makes.
I was surprised and gladdened that Paul was an honorable man who valued family relationships and put the needs of others before his own desires. He doesn't take the easy way out from his albatross wife, even after finding the woman and family he's always longed for. Paul perseveres through sexual temptation, not because of dogma, but because he cares about Victoria and doesn't want to hurt her. Despite his feelings for Victoria, he demonstrates loyalty to his shallow, materialistic wife and tries to work things out. That kind of virtue is somewhat rare in a Hollywood production these days, and lends a welcome old-fashioned, family-friendly air to the movie (END OF SPOILER)."
Wonderful old fashioned romance
Curtis M. Harrell, Jr. | 09/19/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Why are all the professional critics so harsh with this movie? Are they so cynical they can't appreciate a good old fashioned story that is well told, beautifully photographed, and featuring wonderful performances, especially by Anthony Quinn and Giancarlo Giannini. And let's not forget the stunningly beautiful Aitana Sanchez-Gijon as the heroine! Even the much maligned acting of Keanu Reeves gets a break in this one: he does a fine job of portraying a decent, caring young man who finds himself falling in love and not knowing what to do about an impossible situation. His scene in the moonlight as he serenades his lady love is pure poetry, and the same must be said for the scene in the vinyard as the workers, including Keanu and Aitana, wield "butterfly wings" to ward off the killing frost. Sure, there are "corny" elements in the story, at least by today's standards, but the charm of the entire movie transends its faults. Let's stop being cynics for a while and enjoy a movie about decent, caring people. Seldom has any romantic movie looked this good! Now, get this gem on DVD and soon (and please: WIDESCREEN with stereo to show off the luscious cinematography and beaufiful music score)!"
His Head in the Clouds?
Curtis M. Harrell, Jr. | Chicago, Illinois USA | 09/18/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Just viewed this movie for the third or fourth time since seeing it at the show ten years ago, and still find it an amazing film, for light entertainment-slash-sentimental love story. (Note to all would-be movie reviewers: Learn how to review a movie for what it is, on its own terms, and not for what it is not.) Its a period piece, with stunningly gorgeous cinematography and locales, and a pretty good turn at story-telling, craftsmanship and acting - yes - even on Keanu Reeves' part. (There seems to be a trend amongst male movie reviewers to give `de facto bad reviews' to such actors as Brad Pitt and Keanu Reeves, 'just because'. Its a sad testament to the frailty of the male ego that some of us feel threatened, challenged, and even competitive with a guy we probably don't even know, and will most likely never meet.) Anyway, I don't really know what movie the Amazon reviewer saw, because, frankly, he was blatantly wrong on all the salient points about this film.
First off, its a good movie, for its genre and the story it tells. Next, Keanu Reeves is completely plausible, and likable in his role as a war Veteran who saw, and endured many terrible things during his time of service, attempted to forget it all, then tried to come back to a normal life with a wife he married on a spur of the moment, as many soldiers do, hoping to make it work. (There was even a pivotal scene between Keanu and Giancarlo Giannini, where he explains why and how he had to `close himself off' emotionally, to do what he had to do to survive the horrors of war, hence, his stoicism, which the Amazon reviewer somewhat shallowly dismisses as `wooden'.) He shows real emotion when he needs to - and where it is required - mainly, in his scenes with Aitana Sanchez-Gijon, for whom he has real affection, and not Debra Messing, his `impulse' bride. Which would explain (to those who were paying attention) why he really didn't care that she was `cheating on him' with Armistead. Or, for that matter, the vineyard fire at the end, which, to him, must have been much like the scorched battlefields he experienced during the war. (What type of war hero runs and screams with everyone else when such an event occurs?) What the Amazon reviewer calls `wooden', others would label `grace under fire' (no pun intended), or just keeping a level head.
Guess what, reviewer: The farmhands were not chasing insects with their `gossamer wings', but actually try to divert heat onto the vines during a night of killing frost. To this viewer, Keanu Reeves didn't seem `terribly self-conscious', but more like a man who was genuinely and hopelessly in love with someone he barely knew, and trying desperately to impress that upon both her, and her unrelentingly suspicious and un-welcoming father.
In his defense, the Amazon reviewer was actually talking about the `VHS Tape edition', so, its possible he may have seen a completely different movie all together, one other than what most of the viewers here saw. But this reviewer, for one, loved this movie, the ensemble of actors, the locales, the soundtrack, and the quiet, easy way it creeps into the sentimental heart of most people who see it - even us guys. Except, of course, for those who had their heads in the clouds, while it was playing."