HEAD IN THE CLOUDS is a sweeping romantic drama set in 1930's England, Paris, and Spain. Gilda Bessé shares her Paris apartment with an Irish schoolteacher, Guy Malyon, and Mia, a refugee ...
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HEAD IN THE CLOUDS is a sweeping romantic drama set in 1930's England, Paris, and Spain. Gilda Bessé shares her Paris apartment with an Irish schoolteacher, Guy Malyon, and Mia, a refugee from Spain. As the world drifts toward war, Gilda defiantly pursues her hedonistic lifestyle and her burgeoning career as a photographer. But Guy and Mia feel impelled to join the fight against fascism, and the three friends are separated - seemingly forever. Written by
Writer and Director John Duigan has added to his cinematic stature with this recent film about the interrelated responses of three countries - England, France, Spain - to the early phases of WW II and in doing so gives some inadvertent insight into how the continent was so endangered by the little known bad boy Hitler in the years leading up to the horror of a second World War.
The title seems very appropriate - taken from the quip of 'Head in the clouds, Feet on the ground' - as the lead character Gilda (a radiantly beautiful Charlize Theron) seems to float above all of the reality of warring struggles in 1933, focusing her life on paramours, expensive clothes, and 'dangerous liaisons' with a varied assortment of men, all the while keeping a firm stance on needs of her strangely disjointed life. Indeed, the opening of the film finds Gilda in need of shelter from a night's fling with a Cambridge lover and she knocks on the door of a poor struggling Irish student Guy (Stuart Townsend), thus beginning a lasting affair that coasts through the entire story.
Guy eventually follows Gilda to Paris where she is a popular photographer living with her gallerist, but also living with her lesbian lover Mia (Penelope Cruz). Gilda, Guy, and Mia become a triptych and it is only the impact of the rise of fascism in Spain (Mia's home) that separates the ménage a trois: idealistic Guy and compassionate Mia are off to fight Franco while Gilda is left behind to admit to the encroaching threat of Nazis in France and enter into her own version of involvement.
How these three weather the war and resolve their varied degrees of complicity provides the film's finale. The cast is strong, the settings are gorgeous (in all three countries) as captured by cinematographer Paul Sarossy, and the musical score by Terry Frewer introduces a potential talent for film composition (while borrowing heavily from French cabaret songs, symphonic music by Edward Elgar, and pieces of Francis Poulenc). But the overall reason for enjoying this rather long film is the interplay of Theron, Townsend and Cruz in a variety of richly sensuous vignettes. Well worth watching. Grady Harp
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