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Buy from Amazon

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Sony Pictures Home Entertainment presents
Head in the Clouds (2004)

Guy: You live in a cocoon. You don't think about the world outside.
Gilda: I give my allegiance to those around me.
Guy: We share the world, whether we like it or not.

- Stuart Townsend, Charlize Theron

Review By: Matt Peterson   
Published: March 16, 2005

Stars: Charlize Theron, Penelope Cruz, Stuart Townsend
Other Stars: Thomas Kretschmann, Steven Berkoff
Director: John Duigan

MPAA Rating: R for sexuality, nudity and some violence
Run Time: 02h:01m:01s
Release Date: January 25, 2005
UPC: 043396069596
Genre: drama


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B B-A-B+ C-

DVD Review

As the rumblings of Nazi Germany become audible, the stunningly beautiful siren Gilda (Charlize Theron) is elated. She is living the life she is accustomed to; it's a hedonistic existence, full of the euphoria of the moment. It is not the winds of war that concern her, but the winds of change. Infected with a case of wanderlust, she has explored many careers, from painter to writer to movie starlet, though none have kept her fascinated enough to commit. She has moved on to Paris, and has undertaken photography. Many new suitors occupy Gilda's time, including the ravenous former striptease dancer turned nurse with a limp (restrain laughter, please) Mia (Penelope Cruz), though none stir her feelings like Guy (Stuart Townsend).

Guy and Gilda, as if the alliteration didn't suggest, were made for each other. Gilda's beauty achieved mythical, legendary status at Cambridge, where the two met one stormy night. Slowly but surely, Guy grew to know Gilda and her carefree aristocratic lifestyle, but somehow he knew their paths were not meant to coincide. Indeed, once the youngster graduated, he was off to a teaching job in England, but the memory of Gilda does not tend to fade. Before long, Guy is summoned to Paris, where he is reunited with his true love, and meets Mia. In a living arrangement that begs the use of "ménage à trois" on the DVD's back cover, Guy finds bliss.

A storm is brewing. While Gilda is perfectly content to live life as a game, free of conscience, Guy's scruples catch up with him. Out of an obligation to fight fascism and stand for his beliefs, Guy and Mia head to Spain to fight with the Republican resistance. It is a futile effort, but one they hope will alert the world to the strife in Mia's home country. Gilda, deeply hurt by their decision, cannot understand why anyone would throw away their lives for a war so far away. Before long, Guy returns to France as a member of the resistance, and discovers Gilda's new lover: a German officer. Has Gilda sold her very soul to maintain a life of comfort, or is her love for Guy still strong?

This is an entertaining, epic melodrama with plenty of contrivances, but the film's settings make them tolerable. John Duigan's tale is saturated in convincing period detail, save for the occasionally obvious bluescreen shot. Once again, WWII is the setting of choice here, a popular one for romantic dramas. A period of 10 years transpires during the films well-paced running time, allowing us to see the distinct character transformations, including Theron's endless chain of hairdos. The epic scope of the events that swirl around these lovers is conveyed well, but the focus remains on the relationships at hand.

Performances are worthwhile here, especially from Oscar winner Charlize Theron. Her star power carries this film, in spite of a few moments of awkward dialogue. Gilda is your typical free spirit, looking to enjoy every second of life but overlooking what is important in the process. Her real-life companion, Stuart Townsend, does a fine job capturing the initial youth and naïvetè of Guy, and his eventual shift in tone, ending the story as a hardened war vet. Penelope Cruz's maimed nurse is somewhat underdeveloped. None of these characters or situations are particuarly innovative, but adequate. Yes, there is plenty of skin and even a rather erotic dance/kiss fest between the two ladies, making this film all the more appealing to the more hormonally motivated.

You know who you are.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: The anamorphic 2.35:1 transfer captures the film's shifting color palette well. From luminous to desaturated, the image shows solid contrast, and fine detail. Fleshtones can look a bit reddish and the picture is dark at times, but this is a solid image. Grain and edge halos are minimal.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby 5.1 track is rather front-centered, engaging the surround for some occasional discrete and ambient effects. The soundstage comes to life during musical and war sequences.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
7 Other Trailer(s) featuring Being Julia, Bad Education, House of Flying Daggers, Zelary, Touch of Pink, Imaginary Heroes, Stella Street
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extras Review: Aside from the theatrical trailer and a slew of other trailers, the only extra is a sparse featurette, The Making of Head in the Clouds (09m:20s). This is a fluffy EPK piece with comments from the cast and director John Duigan; not much to learn here.

Extras Grade: C-

 

Final Comments

While not a great film by any means—it never reaches the emotional highs one would hope—Duigan's romantic war epic features some of the most beautiful people in film today. For some, that may be enough.

 


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