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Poor Acting Causes' A Walk in the Clouds' to Stagger

FILM

A Walk in the Clouds

directed by Alfonso Arau

starring Keanu Reeves

released by 20th Century Fox

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'A Walk in the Clouds' had the potential to be a truly great movie.

It's not.

In fact, the nicest thing you can say about it is that it had the potential to a truly great movie.

The star, Keanu Reeves, cannot act. While this may not have mattered in 'Speed' and was less notice-able in "Little Buddha,' it is painfully obvious in 'A Walk in the Clouds.' Even Reeves' talented co-star, Aitana Sanchez-Gijon, cannot stop the romance from becoming ridiculous.

Every member of the Hispanic family, especially the grandfather, played by Anthony Quinn, and the father, played by Giancarlo Fiannini, are skillful actors. However, they have their own (insurmountable?) obstacles to overcome. The script calls for jolting transitions form Spanish to English--a beautiful Spanish song turns into a chant of "crush the grapes!" among other painfully incongruous moments.

While the actors portraying the Aragon family aren't coping with utterly idiotic dialogue or language swings, they turn out fantastic performances. The scenes in which all three generations of women gather to prepare meals live up to the quality of those in the last film directed by Alfonso Arau, 'Like Water for Chocolate.' These gentle, touching, brief moments represent what the movie could have been.

The cinematography also could have saved the movie. In some scenes, the images were resplendent with rich color and perfect lighting. But at times, it's overdone and positively drips sentiment.

If the script had made the plot fly with dialogue that is the stuff of fantasies, this film might have ceased to lurch and started to dance. However, "she is the air to me," is not memorable, or even faintly original, material.

While none of the film's elements is good enough to keep it on its feet, they do save it from utter worthlessness.

If nothing else, the scenery is beautiful, Reeves is handsome and beautiful, Reeves is handsome and Sanchez-Gijon is luminous.

In fact, visually this film might not be so bad. I recommend the theaters show it without the sound. Minus the overdone romantic music swelling in the background and the recycled dialogue, the romance might not have seemed so painfully staged.

'A Walk in the Clouds' seems to have everything going for it: a plot to win the heart of romantics, a director already critically acclaimed for his portrayal of a Hispanic family and richly colored scenery. But in the end, 'A Walk in the Clouds' only staggers.

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