The Sheltering Sky (1990) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Sheltering Sky (1990)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

The Sheltering Sky Trailers & Photos

Movie Info

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
Rating: R (adult situations/language, nudity)
Genre: Drama, Action & Adventure
Directed By:
Written By: Mark Peploe, Bernardo Bertolucci
In Theaters:
On DVD: May 14, 2002
Warner Home Video


John Malkovich
as Port Moresby
Debra Winger
as Kit Moresby
Jill Bennett II
as Mrs. Lyle
Eric Vu-An
as Balquassim
Amina Annabi
as Mahrnia
Philippe Morier-Geno...
as Captain Broussard
Sotigui Kouyaté
as Abdelkader
Tom Novembre
as French Immigration O...
Kamel Cherif
as Ticket Seller
Nicoletta Braschi
as French Woman
Paul Bowles
as Narrator
Jill Bennett
as Mrs. Lyle
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Sheltering Sky

Critic Reviews for The Sheltering Sky

All Critics (24) | Top Critics (9)

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

Full Review… | December 7, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | December 7, 2007
Top Critic

As you'd expect, it's a big, handsome film, rich and strange in psychological depths and eroticism. Malkovich and Winger play woundingly well.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

A long, beautifully modulated cry of despair.

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

[A] frustrating, monotonously obscure movie.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Washington Post
Top 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.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

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.

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.

Mike T.

Super Reviewer


A painfully long movie...

Audrey Lush

Super Reviewer

The Sheltering Sky Quotes

– Submitted by David R (2 years ago)

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