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20th Century Fox presents
A Walk in the Clouds (1995)

"Talking between men and women never solves anything. Where we think, they feel. They are creatures of the heart."
- Don Pedro Aragon (Anthony Quinn)

Review By: Joel Cunningham   
Published: February 27, 2001

Stars: Keanu Reeves, Aitana Sanchez-Gijon
Other Stars: Anthony Quinn, Giancarlo Giannini
Director: Alfonso Arau

Manufacturer: DVCC
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for (moments of sensuality and war action)
Run Time: 01h:43m:53s
Release Date: January 09, 2001
UPC: 024543008019
Genre: romance


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

DVD Review

Right off the bat, A Walk in the Clouds has a serious hurdle to overcome. After all, it does star Keanu Reeves in an intelligent, non-action role. Now, say what you will about Keanu's acting ability, but I don't think anyone could say he oozes intelligence. A more apt description would be that he is a sort of black hole for intelligence. He just sucks it off of the screen. Luckily, A Walk in the Clouds has enough going for it that it still succeeds, despite the presence of Ted Theodore Logan ("Wyld Stallions!").

Alfonso Arau, director of the successful foreign language film Like Water for Chocolate, made his American film debut with this old-style epic romance set against the stunning scenery of Northern California vineyards. On his way home from combat in WWII, disillusioned soldier Paul (Keanu Reeves) is on a bus when he meets Victoria Aragon (Aitana Sanchez-Gijon). She is pregnant but unmarried, and she knows her traditionalist father will be furious if she comes home without a husband. Paul decides to help her out by posing as her husband for just one night, so that when he runs off, blame will shift to him rather than Victoria. Of course, once he gets to the Aragon farm, he is drawn into Victoria's family and their lives.

Arau transforms this rather simple, clichéd story into much, much more. Using the natural beauty of the California coastline, Arau constructs a beautiful portrait of a way of life that has pretty much disappeared. He captures the charm of the work on the farm, from the almost musical grape stomping to the elegant beauty of frost on the vines.

The acting thankfully equals the visuals. I kid poor Keanu, but he is actually passable here. His somewhat vacuous charms are appropriate for his simple, idealistic character. Sanchez-Gijon does perhaps the best work in the film. In the end, it is really her story, her journey. Her portrayal is note-perfect: equal parts strong and vulnerable.

I wouldn't recommend A Walk in the Clouds to cynics. Some will be put off by the exaggerated elements of romance and melodrama. However, if you can put off your cynical 1990s sensibilities and appreciate the film as a traditional romance, you'll definitely enjoy what is here.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: B+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: There is some stunning scenery in this film, and I am happy to say Fox did right by the transfer. Colors are rich and well-saturated. Black level is excellent, as is shadow detail. Fine detail was a bit lacking in some brighter scenes, and I noticed a bit of edge-enhancement and some artifacting, but overall, this anamorphic transfer looks excellent. The film has a dreamlike quality, and the rich colors are translated perfectly.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, Frenchyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: This is not a showy audio mix, but the film doesn't demand it. There is little action in the surrounds (except for the fire scene), but everything still sounds nice. Dialogue is always clear and the musical score is nicely mixed in the front soundstage and never becomes obtrusive. Basically, this mix gets the job done without calling attention to itself.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
5 Other Trailer(s) featuring The Beach, Prelude to a Kiss, Ever After, Never Been Kissed, Here on Earth
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extras Review: This isn't a special edition by any means, but there are still some nice features for a bare-bones disc. The featurette is the standard promotional fair, with brief clips from the film and snippets of interviews from the actors. It runs about five minutes. There are also six (!) theatrical trailers, one for A Walk in the Clouds, and five for other romantic films, under the heading "Fox Flix": The Beach, Prelude to a Kiss, Ever After, Never Been Kissed, Here on Earth.

Extras Grade: C-

 

Final Comments

Fans of old-style romances should be very happy with A Walk in the Clouds. Yes, it has the basic predictable plot, but it is very well done, and the production values are excellent, especially the cinematography. Despite the PG-13 rating, there is little here to offend, and I believe this would make for a good family viewing experience. Plus, it is one of the few Keanu Reeves performances that doesn't feature the word "Woah."

 


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