340 of 349 people found the following review helpful
on June 13, 2000
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.
85 of 87 people found the following review helpful
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).
79 of 83 people found the following review helpful
This is an incredibly beautiful film. It is gentle, sweet, and full of love. With gorgeous cinematography and a wonderful cast, it will transport you to another era. Keanu Reeves is marvelous in it, as is Anthony Quinn. Their drinking/singing scene is priceless. It's a one of a kind gem and if you want some warmth and humanity in your entertainment, this is the one to watch.
29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on September 19, 2000
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)!
27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on September 18, 2005
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.
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on April 29, 2001
I am writing this as a critic who usually stays away from Keanu Reeves in any movie. The only reason why I watched this in the first place was because a friend said I would love it and I definately do.
Keanu Reeves(Paul Sutton) is a WW II vet who comes home to a wife he barely knew and has nothing in common with and hits the road to sell chocolates. On the train and again on a bus he meets Victoria who is a young woman who is traveling home to her family's vineyard although she is also pregnant. As a nice guy, Paul decides to accompany Victoria home and pretend that they are married. What ensues is two strangers falling in love as they try to convince her parents that they are truly married.
This was a great story in which the scenery is spectacular. Along with some of the fabulous scenes of the traditional harvesting and stomping of the grapes, it is a heartwarming movie injected with a bit of comedy from the rest of the Aragon family. Although a bit predictable, this was a really well done romantic movie which I enjoy watching over and over again. I would definately recommend this movie to anyone who is a true romantic at heart.
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on July 14, 2003
When I use the term Adult Fairytale, some might think of films like, "The Princess Bride" or "Ever After" but "A Walk in the Clouds" is a more suitable example. Director Alfonso Arau has created a magical story peopled by outsized characters and placed in a spiritual world called the Aragon Estate. The film permits we mere mortals to visit this world, a Spanish style winery nestled in California's Napper Valley. We arrive along with Paul Sutton, Keanu Reeves; a stranger in a strange land.
Paul's background is economically exposed at the start of the movie. A man returns from World War II, hoping to greet his wife whom he met and married just before shipping out. He dreams of a meaningful life, surrounded by a loving family. His small goals are those of an orphan who has had a lonely life and whose ordeals in battle have condensed his wishes to the simple, important things. Sadly his wife, Betty, is more interested in money and its trappings. She has a lot of spirit but little heart or interest for Paul's modest ambitions. He no sooner arrives than he is pushed out the door to earn some money selling chocolates; a job he wasn't enthusiastic about even before the war.
At this point we are still grounded in the real world, although Paul has an unearthly element to him that is hinted at. For example, any soldier that writes a letter to his wife every day, despite receiving virtually no replies, has more than the average dose of hope and optimism. The real world serves as a backdrop for the rest of the film, contrasting starkly with the soft images, haunting score and honest dialogue that characterises life at the Aragon Vineyard. On a train journey to one of his sales calls, Paul meets Victoria Aragon. She forms a bridge, between these two worlds, that Paul traverses in a series of jerks and lurches. A run of accidents result in Paul volunteering to help the beautiful but miserable young woman. I'm certain these accidents represent fate taking a hand in the lives of two who are destined for love.
Victoria is played by Aitana Sanchez-Gijon in her first English speaking role. Victoria's problem, being unmarried and pregnant, is magnified by having to face a traditionalist family and a strict and passionate father, Alberto. The solution seems obvious to the chivalrous Paul. He suggests playing the part of her husband, a man who fears responsibility and will soon leave her. In this way Paul hopes her honour will be maintained in the eyes of her family and any bitterness will, instead, fall on his absent shoulders. It is a good plan, only complicated in execution by the couple's growing love and Paul's desire for the rich family life that Victoria takes for granted. The turning point seems to come during a family ritual, performed after picking the harvest. All the married women are enticed into a large wooden vat to crush the grapes. This prosaic activity is actually a lusty and sensual attempt to harness the ancient powers of some fertility god. Not even Paul can stand against Victoria's almost unwitting seduction. This is truly one of the sexiest pieces of footage I can remember seeing; and all without resorting to nudity or the sharing of body fluids.
Another rope around Paul's neck is the family's patriarch, Don Pedro Aragón, played with amazing assurance and grace by Anthony Quinn. Don Pedro seems to see through all deceptions, going straight to the heart of the matter. He guides, prods and manipulates Paul to discover, and even pursue, his love of Victoria. In fact if I have any criticism of the film it is that next to Anthony Quinn, Keanu seems like a wooden doll, particularly during the preparations for the drunken serenade. But even this seems appropriate for Paul's character, so inexperienced in the ways of family.
Several Journeys take place in the film; Paul's path from orphanage to family, Victoria's reluctant steps from deception to honesty, her father Alberto's change from taskmaster to loving parent. Even the audience takes a journey. We start out wanting to escape our troubles with a little light entertainment and walk away looking inward, trying to decide if we are on a path as fulfilling as that of Paul and the Aragón family. "A Walk in the Clouds" clearly rejects mindless materialism, a philosophy mirrored by Paul's war-bride rejecting him. Instead we are asked to believe that family, honest labour and honour make up the soil our soul should take root in. We may not all have root stock as steeped in tradition as the Aragon's but like Paul, perhaps we will have the sense to recognise rich earth when we see it.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on October 10, 2005
This movie and soundtrack are a delightful treat. Just a sweet story harkening back to a time of ethics, morals, and a belief in destiny. The message is clear, the cinematography magnificent and a soundtrack that swept me into the movie's heart. No violence, nudity, excessive vulgar language, car chases or computerized effects - just a beautiful story accompanied by beautiful music for those of us who can still be entertained without the aforementioned "extras." Wish there were more of these films, as in "The Notebook" and this under-rated gem.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on June 18, 2002
A Walk in the Clouds is not a new, ground-breaking film that challenges the intellect. But it never said it was trying to be. It is the warm, familiar Tollhouse Cookie just out of the oven in a kitchen full of exotic deserts being made, constantly trying to outdo each other.
Keanu Reeves, whom I usually detest, gives a surprisingly warmer side and shows emotion in his dialogue (which is completely free from sexual innuendos and the use of the word "dude"-a first for Mr. Reeves, I believe). Aitana Sánchez-Gijón is a fresh new talent. Giancarlo Giannini has a convincing character of a man who doesn't pull any punches, yet alludes to a deeper, more human side underneath. Anthony Quinn, probably the biggest name in this production, is the warm, sweet grandfather, who has the best lines of the film ("I have faith in my son and I have faith in you.... but your fly is open").
There is a reign of Romanticism in this film, and in the tradition of Like Water for Chocolate, A Walk in the Clouds is designed to evoke the senses, setting the majority of the movie in a rather large Napa vineyard, and having such scenes as the one where the family crushes the grapes (without the assitance of Lucille Ball, I'm afraid). Such scenes are complimented by the music, with a decidedly Mariachi feel.
A Walk in the Clouds is meant to be a film that tells a sweet story of a love that conquers its adversaries (much like many of the MGM movie musicals-Brigadoon comes to mind), and leaves the viewer with a satisfied, warm, feeling at the end. What's perhaps the most remarkable about it is that it succeeds in doing so.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on September 4, 2004
I'm sorry -- but I don't think Keanu Reeves is wooden at all in this film. There is this "California" kind of personality -- like Harrison Ford, and Keanu Reeves is the new incarnation of this laid-back personaliity. I think that Keanu Reeves does a great job as a shell-shocked, Midwestern orphan who comes "home" to a very disaffected civil life. I loved this movie.