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The Sheltering Sky (1990)

tomatometer

56

Average Rating: 5.5/10
Critic Reviews: 9
Fresh: 5 | Rotten: 4

No consensus yet.

audience

81

liked it
Average Rating: 3.7/5
User Ratings: 5,367

My Rating

Movie Info

From director Bernardo Bertolucci, The Sheltering Sky is a filmed adaptation of the novel of the same name by Paul Bowles. Debra Winger and John Malkovich star as Kit and Port Moresby, a married American couple who globetrot to North Africa in the late '40s with the hopes of re-sparking their love and adding some zest to their lackluster lives. Along for the ride is the pair's friend George Tunner (Campbell Scott), who soon begins having an affair with Kit. As they struggle through the numbing

R,

Drama, Action & Adventure

May 14, 2002

Warner Home Video

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Cast

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All Critics (24) | Top Critics (9) | Fresh (12) | Rotten (12) | DVD (6)

A disappointingly reductive adaptation of Paul Bowles's first novel.

December 7, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Those who haven't read the book will be left bewildered.

December 7, 2007 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
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As you'd expect, it's a big, handsome film, rich and strange in psychological depths and eroticism. Malkovich and Winger play woundingly well.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
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A long, beautifully modulated cry of despair.

May 20, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Times | Comments (2)
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The book is so complete, so deep and so self-contained that it shuts the movie out. Bertolucci shows us the outsides and the surfaces, and a person seeing this movie without having read the book might ask what it is about.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Bowles's gentle, avian features, the obvious wisdom of his years and his distinctive presence are practically worth the price of admission.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Filled with stunning visuals.

March 11, 2011 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Disappointing.

December 7, 2007 Full Review Source: Film4
Film4

Brimming with obscure meaning and devoid of drive and fervor, the film dries up in that symbolic desert sun, the victim of its own pretensions and a casualty of trying to film something best suited to the realm of cult literature.

December 7, 2007 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Bertolucci's grand desert epic gets stuck in the sand right at the start.

December 6, 2005 Full Review Source: Filmcritic.com
Filmcritic.com

(No quote available.)

January 30, 2004

Soul searching is rarely a thrill a minute but it's rarely as tedious as this. ...Oscar-bait it may be, but "The Sheltering Sky" is more deserving of the First Annual Chicken Little Award.

August 5, 2003 Full Review Source: James Sanford on Film
James Sanford on Film

One of those movies where you know they're trying to say something important, but it's just not coming across.

September 24, 2002 Full Review Source: Apollo Guide
Apollo Guide

We are brought face-to-face with the compulsions and yearnings which lie behind our alternating love and fear of life.

September 20, 2002 Full Review Source: Spirituality and Practice
Spirituality and Practice

Fascinating without ever being involving

July 30, 2002
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

It is no doubt quite difficult to portray self-indulgence without the work itself taking on an air of arrogance; and certainly The Sheltering Sky fails on that level.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Deseret News, Salt Lake City
Deseret News, Salt Lake City

Audience Reviews for The Sheltering Sky

The worst!!! When its finally over you find yourself asking, how can so many talented people make something this pretentious and odious.
April 2, 2008
jjnxn
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

I would feel like I was overlooking some considerable flaws if I called this movie perfect, but I am perfectly okay with saying that I loved it. Bertolucci's direction is as powerful as ever, controlling tone and atmosphere with the precision we expect from him. This is among his most visually beautiful work, with Vittorio Storaro's cinematography providing aesthetic poetry in almost every scene. Peculiarly constructed and sometimes confusing, I found this film's debatable narrative faults to be conducive to its overall effect. John Malkovich and Debra Winger are outstanding, and there are plenty of strong supporting performances as well. A beautiful, unnerving epic drama.
July 15, 2010
michaelcorleone

Super Reviewer

A painfully long movie...
September 27, 2008
alush1

Super Reviewer

Bertolucci's worst film. I would rather tear my eyes out than see this again.
March 22, 2008
threefolddado

Super Reviewer

    1. Mrs. Lyle: Shut up and drink it you sissy!
    – Submitted by David R (16 months ago)
View all quotes (1)

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Foreign Titles

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