2.5 Stars out of 4
EXCLUSIVE TO SHORT CUTS!
I felt The Sheltering Sky exploited too much of its erotic themes and did not protrude it at the right times. Director Bernardo Bertolucci (1900, Last Tango In Paris) has transcended the difficulty of sexuality and its tendency to act as a barrier to certain will power. The Sheltering Sky is the opposite approach to Bertolucci’s classic “love story”. What happens is travellers Kit (Debra Winger) and Port (John Malkovich) Moresby are on an expedition through North Africa (in 1947) just after the World War, where Mussolini had occupied parts of the continent.
Oh, I should note: For the Moresby’s the difference between a tourist and a traveller is a tourist thinks about going home the minute they arrive to their destination. A traveller may never consider going back. Interesting contrast, much of the Moresby’s relationship is infected with the tourist – just “love” itself is not fulfilling enough and it is always looking back the other way.
The Moresby’s try to fulfill their fantasies and copulate (literally) on the precipice of their marriage. As a terrible calamity occurs half way through the film, it is Debra Winger who pulls through as the frayed, tarnished, but indefatigable Kit, who develops the feminine grandeur of a T.E. Lawrence.
The film itself, based off the 1949 work by Paul Bowles, does not fulfill the requirements of his text. The Sheltering Sky has difficulty pointing out the transformations and amidst all its glorious cinematography (it was all done on location), you could not help but feel the film got the look down, just not the lyricism. When the film concludes on the voice of the estranged narrator, we feel confounded not riveted. The use of the supporting roles, such as Timothy Spall and Campbell Scott seems more like a luxury to the blank spaces than a tactic to generate emotion.