The Sheltering Sky (1990)
In Bernardo Bertolucci's adaptation of Paul Bowles' novel The Sheltering Sky, an American couple (Debra Winger and John Malkovich) travel to North Africa in the late '40s with the hopes of resparking their love and their lackluster lives. The couple brings along a friend (Campbell Scott), who soon has an affair with Winger, and the trio's beliefs and lives are challenged as they struggle through the numbing heat of Africa. Despite some wonderful visuals and photography, The Sheltering Sky is far too slowly-paced and convoluted to appeal to most viewers. Though Bertolucci and the cast desperately try to convey the hallucinatory power of Bowles' book, most of their efforts are confusing and far too obtuse to translate to film. … More
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Critic Reviews for The Sheltering Sky
A disappointingly reductive adaptation of Paul Bowles's first novel.
As you'd expect, it's a big, handsome film, rich and strange in psychological depths and eroticism. Malkovich and Winger play woundingly well.
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.
Bowles's gentle, avian features, the obvious wisdom of his years and his distinctive presence are practically worth the price of admission.
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.
Bertolucci's grand desert epic gets stuck in the sand right at the start.
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.
One of those movies where you know they're trying to say something important, but it's just not coming across.
We are brought face-to-face with the compulsions and yearnings which lie behind our alternating love and fear of life.
Fascinating without ever being involving
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.More
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.More
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